Things I Noticed from Week 14 in the NFL

Pittsburgh Steelers (10-3) defeat Cleveland Browns (4-9) 14-3

– The entire city of Pittsburgh probably let out a collective sigh of relief after seeing Ben Roethlisberger (16 for 21, 280 passing yards, 2 touchdowns, 1 interception) return to the game after his 2nd-quarter ankle injury. The last thing the Steelers need right now is for their Quarterback and team leader to miss any time, especially with the number 1 seed in the AFC still up for grabs.

– After looking at the hit James Harrison gave to Browns Quarterback Colt McCoy (18 for 35, 209 passing yards, 2 interceptions) more closely, I believe a suspension is greatly in order. That was a clear helmet to helmet hit. Personally, I would suspend him for the remaining 3 games of the season. Tackles like that can’t be tolerated anymore.

Peyton Hillis (10 carries, 25 yards) should be counting down his days in Cleveland. He isn’t running with the same sense of urgency and passion that he did in Denver that eventually got him this huge contract with Cleveland. Whether it’s his injuries holding him back or not, Hillis isn’t the same player he once was.

New England Patriots (10-3) defeat Washington Redskins (4-9) 34-27

– Rob Gronkowski broke the NFL record for most touchdowns in a season by a tight end with his 14th and 15th scores of the year on Sunday. If you need any more proof as to how dominant a force “the Gronk” has been in 2011, just watch this play.

– I wouldn’t look too much into the sideline argument Tom Brady and his offensive co-ordinator got into during the game. Tom Brady threw a bad interception right before, and was probably more upset with himself than anything. Disputes like that happen all the time in the NFL.

– The Patriots still remain in the hunt for the #1 seed in the AFC, but I wouldn’t put much faith in them right now heading into the playoffs. I have New England ranked behind Baltimore, Pittsburgh and even Houston as my pick to represent the conference in the Super Bowl. There weak secondary was exposed against Washington as Rex Grossman (19 for 32, 252 passing yards, 2 touchdowns, 1 interception) lit them up through the air. A stellar offense can only take you so far. You have to stop somebody eventually.

New Orleans Saints (10-3) defeat Tennessee Titans (7-6) 22-17

– What a ending in Tennessee. Despite the early injury to Matt Hasselbeck (5 for 7, 44 passing yards), the Titans were still able to hang with the powerhouse Saints behind rookie QB Jack Locker (13 for 29, 282 passing yards, 1 touchdown, 6 rushes, 36 yards, 1 touchdown). At least if Matt has to miss any time down the stretch, they can still remain consistent with Locker.

Drew Brees (36 for 47, 337 passing yards, 2 touchdowns) became only the 2nd Quarterback ever to throw for a touchdown pass in 40 straight games. He also continued his record streak of games with 20 or more completions to 33 games. If Aaron Rodgers wasn’t playing football this year, Drew Brees would win the MVP award in a landslide.

– How bad do you think the San Diego Chargers miss Darren Sproles (5 rushes, 33 yards, 7 catches, 55 yards) in their offense this season? He is 4th in the NFL with 74 receptions and first among running backs. There hasn’t been a better free-agent signing in the NFL all year.

Philadelphia Eagles (5-8) defeat Miami Dolphins (4-9) 26-10

– It was great seeing Michael Vick (15 for 30, 208 passing yards, 1 touchdown, 1 interception) back on the field Sunday, but the problems in the offensive line that knocked Vick out of action in the first place are still there. Vick was sacked 4 times during the game, which doesn’t help his injured ribs at all. The Eagles have to learn how to protect their QB over the off-season. Despite the team being only 2 games out of the playoffs, I can’t see them pulling it out.

– I was glad to see DeSean Jackson (4 catches, 59 yards, 1 touchdown) reunite with the end-zone this week. I guess all he needed was Vick back throwing him the ball. The Eagles need D.J to be a part of their offensive scheme and for him to be effective, because when he is on his game, the Eagles win theirs.

– So much for Tony Sparano’s job being safe with the Dolphins 4 game winning streak. He has kept the Miami competitive as of late, so I was surprised to hear of his firing considering their is only 3 games remaining for the season. He deserves a look by another NFL team once the year is done.

Atlanta Falcons (8-5) defeat Carolina Panthers (4-9) 31-23

– It was a tale of 2 halves for the Carolina Panthers Sunday. Cam Newton (19 for 39, 276 passing yards, 2 passing touchdowns, 2 interceptions) was great for 2 quarters, leading the Panthers to 23 first-half points. Unfortunately, the entire team fizzled after halftime, giving up 24 points to Atlanta and not scoring themselves. I guess the Carolina Panthers locker room isn’t a Safari habitat just yet.

– I still don’t think Julio Jones (3 catches, 104 yards, 2 touchdowns) was worth all of the draft picks the Falcons gave up to get him, but at least now he is starting to show why Atlanta did take that risk. He is the perfect deep-threat compliment to Matt Ryan.

– Congratulations goes to Steve Smith (6 catches, 125 yards) for becoming the 35th player in NFL history to record 10,000 reception yards for a career.

Jacksonville Jaguars (4-9) defeat Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-9) 41-14

– A 14-0 lead against a poor Jacksonville Jaguars offense is usually a safe thing. Unless you are the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, which in that case you allow them to score 41 straight points. Josh Freeman (16 for 30, 181 passing yards, 2 interceptions) made dumb errors before the end of the half which allowed the Jaguars to score 14 points in a matter of minutes. The Jaguars  forced the most turnovers(7) in franchise history and had their biggest offensive output in over 4 years. Things just went from bad to worse in Tampa Bay, who are now losers of 7 straight.

– I offer my apologies to anyone who had to face a team with Maurice Jones-Drew (27 rushes, 85 yards, 2 touchdowns, 6 catches, 51 yards, 2 touchdowns) in the line-up for Fantasy Football this week. I guess new head coach Mel Tucker realizes that when Mojo has the ball, good things happen.

– I would not want to be Preston Parker (3 catches, 35 yards, 2 fumbles) after his performance. His two turnovers led to the Jacksonville offensive surge.

Houston Texans (10-3) defeat Cincinnati Bengals (7-6) 20-19

We should just nickname T.J Yates (26 for 44, 300 passing yards, 2 touchdowns, 1 interception) the “life-jacket”, because he is keeping the Texans a float after losing Schaub and Leinart for the year. Down a touchdown in the final moments of the game, Yates led the Texans to a comeback victory that shows Houston can cause some serious noise in the post-season. Lest we forget that Tom Brady was a back-up Quarterback when he took the Patriots to the Super Bowl. Hey, you never know these days.

Andy Dalton (16 for 28, 189 passing yards, 1 touchdown) threw for a touchdown for the 10th straight game, which ties a rookie record held by the great Peyton Manning. I’m sure Dalton cares more about the loss than that record though. The Bengals now drop out of the Wild Card spot, and need to win their last 3 to sneak in.

Detroit Lions (8-5) defeat Minnesota Vikings (2-11) 34-28

– How did the referees miss this face-mask call at the end of the game? The Vikings should have had one more opportunity to win the game. After being down 31-14, it would have been nice to see Minnesota get one last crack at a comeback win.

– Usually, I would have had a problem with the Vikings taking Christian Ponder (11 for 21, 115 passing yards, 2 touchdowns, 3 interceptions) out of the game, but considering the comeback that was led by back-up Joe Webb (12 for 23, 84 yards, 1 touchdown, 7 rushes, 109 yards, 1 touchdown), I’ll let it slide this time. The Vikings only have 2 wins. I just didn’t see the point of pulling the future franchise Quarterback so early.

– I suppose defenses are finally catching on to Calvin Johnson (3 catches, 29 yards). He has only 1 touchdown in his last 5 games after catching 11 through the first half of the season.

New York Jets (8-5) defeat Kansas City Chiefs (5-8) 37-10

-The Jets put such a beating on the Chiefs, that they fired there head coach Todd Haley. I mean, that is the only logical explanation I can think of for why they fired Haley with 3 games left in the season. Remember, this is a team that has suffered injuries to their starting quarterback, running back and key defenders. They also won the division last season as well. Maybe the firing was a bit premature.

– The Jets now control their own destiny, as the win against Kansas City moves them into a Wild Card spot. They are winners of their last 3, Mark Sanchez (13 for 21, 181 passing yards, 2 touchdowns) is playing great football and Shonne Greene has rushed for 210 yards and 4 touchdowns in his last 2 games. I wouldn’t want to draw a first round playoff game with the Jets if I were the Steelers/Ravens/Patriots/Texans.

Baltimore Ravens (10-3) defeat Indianapolis Colts (0-13) 24-10

The Colts lost again. Surprised? To make the recap of this game interesting for you, here is a picture of the Baltimore Ravens cheerleaders. Their faces aren’t clear, but hell, neither is the future of the Colts. Zing!

– Here is how I see the last 3 games of the season playing out for Indianapolis; no one wants to go an entire season and not win a game. I think once it is 100% that the Colts will obtain the #1 pick in the draft, they will put forth their best efforts in the final 2 games of the season to earn that much needed victory. With a game on-tap with the Jaguars, it could very much happen.

– It is hard for me to really judge if the Baltimore Ravens had a great game or not, since the Colts are such a sorry excuse of a team without Peyton Manning. The win does help the Ravens keep pace in the race for the AFC #1 seed, so I guess you can take that away from this forgettable victory.

Denver Broncos (8-5) defeat Chicago Bears (7-6) 13-10

Tim Tebow (21 for 40, 236 passing yards, 1 touchdown, 1 interception, 12 rushes, 49 yards) didn’t win this game for Denver. Marion Barber (27 rushes, 108 yards, 1 touchdown, 1 fumble) lost the game for Chicago. If Barber stays in-bounds during the 4th quarter, then Tebow has even less time to tie the game. If Barber doesn’t fumble the ball in Overtime, the Bears win outright. Tebow did play great in the games final moments, but let’s look at what really happened in this game before we give him all of the credit.

– I am going to show a little love for Denver’s kicker Matt Prater. Kicking a 59 yard field goal to tie the game and then a 50+ yard kick to win it in over-time is no easy task. Just goes to show the importance of having a good kicker on your football team.

– I thought the Bears were going to let Caleb Hanie (12 for 19, 115 passing yards) air it out on Sunday. He didn’t throw any interceptions at least, but he didn’t do much else with the ball either. I wonder if Donovan McNabb gets any phone calls this coming week.

Arizona Cardinals (6-7) defeat San Francisco 49ers (10-3) 21-19

Don’t look now, but the Cardinals have won 4 of 5 games, and 3 of those wins (49ers, Eagles, Cowboys) have come against quality opponents. I don’t know about you, but I think this team looks a lot better on the field when John Skelton (19 for 28, 282 yards, 3 touchdowns, 2 interceptions) is behind center.

– The 49ers may have clinched the division, but with the #2 seed in the NFL and a first-round bye in the playoffs up for grabs, losses like this will come back and haunt the team. The defense is still considered one of the best squads in the league, but would you trust them on the road in the post-season against Green Bay or New Orleans?

San Diego Chargers (6-7) defeat Buffalo Bills (5-8) 37-10

It is good to finally see the Chargers play like a team that was picked to make the Super Bowl this year, but it may be to little to late. To make the playoffs, the Chargers would have to win out their remaining games and hope “the Miracle man” Tim Tebow loses 2 of his last 3. The Chargers have won 2 straight, but it would have been nice if they threw in some of those wins over the course of their 6-game losing streak.

– “They are who we thought they were!” The Buffalo Bills have now lost 6 straight games, and and is out of the playoffs for the 12th straight season. Not a good ending for a team that started the year so strong.

Green Bay Packers (13-0) defeat Oakland Raiders (7-6) 46-16

The Packers may have continued their undefeated streak, but it may have cost them in the long-run. Star receiver Greg Jennings (2 catches, 20 yards) will now miss 2-3 weeks after suffering an injury on Sunday. The Packers receiving core is good enough to withstand his absence, but will Green Bay now temper on the side of caution and bench their players the remaining games of the season for fear of injury?

Carson Palmer (24 for 42, 245 passing yards, 1 touchdown, 4 interceptions) may have only been with the team for 7 games, but his 13 interceptions have him near the top of the NFL in turnovers. He has done his best to keep the Raiders machine running, but I don’t see why he would remain the starter when Jason Campbell is healthy.

New York Giants (7-6) defeat Dallas Cowboys (7-6) 37-34

– The Dallas Cowboys can’t seem to catch a break when it comes to field goals these days. Last week, Kicker Dan Bailey was iced by his own head coach. This week, he was iced by the New York Giants coach which denied his first game-tying field goal. On his second attempt, Giants Defensive End Jason Pierre Paul blocked his kick completely.

– There isn’t a more clutch end-of-game Quarterback in the league right now then Eli Manning (27 for 47, 400 passing yards, 2 touchdowns, 1 interceptions). Yes, that includes Tim Tebow as well.

– I wonder if Tony Romo (21 for 31, 321 passing yards, 4 touchdowns) can ever erase the stigma that he can’t win games in the fourth quarter. New York now has all of the power in their hands, and Dallas may now be on the outside looking in come the playoffs.

Seattle Seahawks (7-6) defeat St. Louis Rams (2-11) 30-13

“Taste The Rainbow”

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