We’re getting down to the nitty gritty as far as the playoff races go. The Niners get a big win on the road, but there were some big surprises in the AFC this week.
San Diego Chargers 10
Detroit Lions 38
Who was playing some of the best football in, well, football? Up until this week you could say the San Diego Chargers. But not in this one. Matthew Stafford threw for three TD’s and 373 yards to help make sure the Lions secured their first playoff birth since 1999. Hard to believe it was just three years ago Detroit became the first NFL team to go winless at 0-16.
As for San Diego, the Chargers will miss the playoffs for the second straight year, which will most likely mean an exit for head coach Norv Turner.
Denver Broncos 14
Buffalo Bills 40
Uh oh. Would the real Tim Tebow please stand up?? Well, I guess Tim has always been Tim; a less than mediocre quarterback up until the 4th quarter, when he puts on his best Superman impression to lead the Broncos to yet another improbable comeback. Hard to make the improbable comeback however when you toss four interceptions, two of which are returned for touchdowns.
And that was the story of the day. Tebow was awful, but so was the Denver defense. Bills running back C.J. Spiller rushed for 111 yards and a score. Ryan Fitzpatrick was serviceable, completing 15 of 27 passes and 196 yards; 92 of those yards to Stevie Johnson.
The Broncos can still get into the playoffs, or “tournament,” as Tebow put it, with a win against Kansas City next week.
Oakland Raiders 16 OT
Kansas City Chiefs 13
Darrius Heyward-Bey is fast. Very fast. And Oakland, of course, knows this. On the first play of overtime they proved it, sending him down the left side of the field as quarterback, Carson Palmer, connected with him on a 53 yard pass that would set up the game winning field goal.
It was an ugly win for Oakland, who had a whopping 15 penalties, but the win kept them alive for playoff contention with one more week to go. The funny thing is, the Raiders will need help from the Chiefs (who need to beat Denver next week), and then need to defeat San Diego themselves to lock in the AFC West championship.
Arizona Cardinals 16
Cincinnati Bengals 23
The Cardinals couldn’t pull it off one last time; make a dramatic, last second comeback. But they sure made it interesting.
The Bengals dominated this entire game, up until the 4th quarter. Arizona, down 0-23 at the start of the last quarter, came back and nearly won the game. In fact, they easily could have won if Early Doucet wouldn’t have gotten tangled up by his own feet. To put it simply, Doucet be trippin’! And unfortunately, that was the difference maker.
After two fumbles by Bengals running back Cedric Benson, and two touchdown passes by Cardinals quarterback, John Skelton, Arizona had a chance to tie the game within the final seconds. From the Cincinnati 17-yard line, the Bengals ran an ‘all-out’ blitz on fourth down, leaving wide receiver, Doucet, literally wide open….. only to trip over his own feet and watch Skelton’s lofted pass fall into the end zone.
So luck have it or not, this game puts the Bengals into possible playoff contention. To clinch their playoff birth next week they will need to steal a win against Baltimore, which will be no easy task.
Bengals quarterback, Andy Dalton, continues to play well ahead of his years, as he became only the fourth rookie to have 20 touchdowns in a season, joining Peyton Manning, Charlie Conerly and Dan Marino.
St. Louis Rams 0
Pittsburgh Steelers 27
The Rams are quietly waiting for the season to end. Possibly attempting to go down like ‘gentleman’ on the Titanic?
Steven Jackson ran his little heart out, topping 100 yards once again, but quarterback Kellen Clemens wasn’t superb, to say the least, completing only 9 or 24 passes.
Charlie Batch was solid, subbing in for injured Ben Roethlisberger. But then again, just about anyone looks solid against the Rams defense.
GAME OF THE WEEK
San Francisco 49ers 19
Seattle Seahawks 17
It’s not easy to win at Seattle, but the Niners pulled it off. In fact, this was San Fran’s first win at CenturyLink Field since 2008. And a huge win it was. The Niners now only need to knock off St. Louis in the last week to secure a home playoff game and a first round bye.
Marshawn Lynch didn’t make it easy for them though, he had 107 yards rushing and scored the first touchdown the 49ers defense have surrendered on the ground all season. Lynch should be a virtual lock for the pro bowl in what has been a career year for the former Bills running back.
It took David Akers’ foot on Saturday (four field goals) to keep San Fran in contention, including a 39-yard field goal with 2:57 to play to clinch it. Akers broke the all-time NFL record for most field goals in a season, with 42.
It was San Francisco linebacker, Larry Grant, who had the key play of the game; a tackle of quarterback Tarvaris Jackson that popped the ball loose to be recovered by his 49ers teammate, Donte Whitner with only 1:07 left on the clock. Seattle only had 72 total yards in the second half, and their only points came following a blocked punt.
This was much needed for San Francsico, who could really use that bye week to start the playoffs. They’re still playing solid football after two straight wins, but are a little banged up. Guys on the short list who were either inactive or injured during the game this past Saturday include Ted Ginn Jr., Delanie Walker, Kyle Williams and Patrick Willis
Offensive Player Of The Week
Marshawn Lynch (RB) Seattle– 107 yards, TD
Defensive Player Of The Week
Calais Campbell (DE) Arizona – 4 Tackles, 3 Assists, 1 FF, 2 PD
Denver Broncos 8-7
Oakland Raiders 8-7
San Diego Chargers 7-8
Kansas City Chiefs 6-9
San Francisco 49ers 12-3
Arizona Cardinals 7-8
Seattle Seahawks 7-8
St. Louis Rams 2-13