NFL Recap: Week 12
By: Tyler Turner
What a difference a year makes in the NFL. Compare week 12 of 2014 to week 12 of last year and you’ll notice there aren’t many similarities. For one the Cleveland Browns were 3 games below .500 and the bottom feeder of the AFC North this time last year; however with Brian Hoyer healthy, Cleveland has exceeded expectations boasting a 7-4 record in a division where every team has a 7 wins.
Speaking of teams that don’t show similarities to their 2013 counterpart, the Raiders came into week 12 winless and lackadaisical; however on Thursday Night Football the Raiders came to play. When NFL fans hear the last name Murray, Demarco Murray is the player that comes to mind; Latavius Murray of the Raiders wanted to change that. With Oakland already up 7-0 early in the second quarter, Murray burst through the o-line, breaking of an explosive 90 yard TD run to give the Raiders life and a 14-0 lead. Even with the fast start it seemed as if it was too good to be true for the Raiders. Kansas City didn’t let the Raiders get to comfortable, scoring 2 touchdowns to tie the game at 17-17 early in the fourth quarter. With 9:03 left the Chiefs knocked in an extra three points to take the lead. The underdog Raiders weren’t calling it quits, taking 7:21 off the clock ending their 17-play 80-yard drive with a Derek Carr TD pass to James Jones. All was well in Oakland, but wait it wasn’t over. On 3rd and 6 with 43 seconds to go, the raiders sacked Alex Smith; however Sio Moore was a little too excited celebrating 30 yards down the field while the Chiefs tried to snap the ball and cause an offside penalty. Veteran Justin Tuck didn’t want a boneheaded play to cost the Raiders, and wisely called a timeout. On fourth down the raiders were able to stop KC, sealing a 24-20 victory for a team that hadn’t won in 368 days.
Sunday provided fans with another great day in the NFL. In the heavily contested AFC North, both the Browns and Bengals faced going on the road. The Browns traveled down south to take on the struggling but division leading Falcons. Josh Gordon long awaited the day he could play football again, and boy did he show he wasn’t just sitting on the couch. Gordon had 8 rec. for 120 yards in his season debut. The Cleveland run game helped mask the far from perfect performance by Brian Hoyer who threw 3 interceptions and 0 TD’s. With the game winding down and the falcons driving only down 2, Mike Smith called a timeout with 55 seconds left. An odd call to make, being that it was 3rd and 2 and you don’t want to give the opponent extra time if they get the ball back. Atlanta failed to convert that 3rd down , but a 53-yard Matt Bryant field goal gave the Falcons the lead. With just 44 second left the Browns drove down the field capping the drive with a game winner from Billy Cundiff.
The Bengals also went down south, to Houston to take on the Texans. Andy Dalton is not a fan of Houston, having lost every game he had played against them. On Sunday however Dalton wasn’t going to accept defeat. Cincy built up a 16-3 lead, yet late in the third quarter the Texans pulled within three. In the fourth quarter Houston drew a blank, while the Bengals scored two field goals to go onto win 22-13. The Texans fell to 5-6 and received even worse news with Ryan Mallet injuring his pectoral, forcing him to sit out the rest of the season.
Tennessee looked to upset Philly and Mark Sanchez this weekend, but didn’t bare a chance with the Eagles looking for redemption after a blowout loss to Green Bay. If the Eagles want to continue to win, they need to run the ball with Pitt’s own Lesean McCoy and throw the ball on play action. Mark Sanchez was 12-14 for 124 yards and a touchdown when the Eagles used play action against the Titans. Once Philly had the lead, they never relinquished it, scoring 43 points in route to a 43-24 win against a 2-9 Titans squad.
On paper the Detroit, New England game looked to be one of the best on Sunday; however Tom Brady and the Pats showed why their the cream of the crop in the AFC. The Lions potent offense was held to just 9 points on Sunday, while the Pats shredded the supposedly stout Detroit defense for 439 yards of total offense. Patriots fans expected Jonas Gray to have another big game; however after being late to a meeting on Friday, Belichick benched Gray, allowing the newly signed and old face LeGarrette Blount to prove himself. Blount played well rushing for 78 yards and 2 scores. With Tom Brady as QB the Patriots will always have a chance no matter who is his supporting cast. On Sunday the defense and offense had great showings leading to a 34-9 trumping of the Lions.
The Packers had kept pace with the Lions all year, and on Sunday passed Detroit in the division standings with a close 24-21 win against Minnesota. After destroying the Eagles 53-20, Aaron Rodgers couldn’t sit out the second half against the Vikings with this game being closer than most expected. Rodgers had a quiet day, but Lacy made up for it, rushing for 125 yards and a TD. Green Bay lead most of the game, and held back Minnesota to come away with a road victory.
At 7:30 in the morning, T.Y. Hilton’s wife was having a baby; 5 hours later T.Y. was catching TD passes from Andrew Luck. The Colts got off to a slow start scoring only 3 points in the first quarter; however a big 3rd quarter propelled the 7-4 Colts over the Jaguars. The struggles for Jacksonville seem to be attributed to never having a good quarterback. Blake Bortles leads the league in a category no QB wants to be the leader in and that’s interceptions. Bortles has 14 INT’s on the year and has thrown at least 1 interception in all 8 games he’s played this season. It looks like the Jags and Raiders are competing for the number one pick.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers were on the road against the Chicago Bears. The Bears came out flat, not scoring any points in the first half and allowing rookie sensation Mike Evans to score on a 19-yard TD pass from Josh McCown. Evans has been on fire this season racking up 841 yards and 8 TD’s. After a strong first half the Bucs were held to just a field goal while the Bears scored 21 unanswered points. Jay Cutler didn’t throw an INT and was efficient going 17/27 for 130 yards and 1 TD. Matt Forte had himself a day rushing for 89 yards and scoring 2 TD’s. With the 21-13 win the Bears go to 5-6 while the Bucs fall to 2-9; however while Chicago is out of their division race, Tampa Bay is just 2 games out of first place in the NFC South.
One of the most anticipated matchups of the week had the 9-1 Arizona Cardinals travel to Seattle to take on the Seahawks who were in a must win situation. The Seahawks showed why they are the defending champs, playing gritty defense only allowing 3 points and holding Arizona to just 204 total yards. Seattle never gave up the lead with Russell Wilson leading the team in rushing and passing. The Seahawks now look to another division foe, the 49ers, who they play on Thanksgiving. With the loss the Cardinals still sit atop the division but still have to play Kansas City, St. Louis, Seattle and San Francisco; not to mention on Sunday Drew Stanton had a 29.7 QBR and passed for just 149 yards and an INT.
The Broncos were back home on Sunday looking to avenge their 22-7 loss to the St. Louis Rams. The Dolphins had other plans, playing lights out in the first half. Tannehill showed he’s the future in Miami throwing for 228 yards and 3 scores. Heading into halftime Miami was up 21-17, but Denver wasn’t going to let the Dolphins walk away with an easy win. Down 28-17 in the fourth Manning pulled a Marshawn Lynch and went beast mode tossing for 2 TD’s and leading the team to a 39-36 win against the Dolphins who are a much better team then their 6-5 record shows for. Miami has 5 games left, 2 against the Jets, to make a playoff push.
Sunday Night Football didn’t disappoint as the Dallas Cowboys took on their division rivals, the New York Giants. It didn’t look good for the Cowboys, as they watched the Giants score 21 first half points. During the second quarter, with the score at 7-3. Eli Manning launched a ball to the end zone that was snatched out of the air by Odell Beckham Jr. That gave NY the 14-3 lead and more importantly started a storm on social media all night. Dallas wasn’t flustered coming out of halftime and scoring the next 14 points to take the lead late in the 3rd quarter. It was a dogfight all night, with the Giants scoring with just 3 minutes to go. Tony Romo was up for the challenge, having 80 yards between him and a victory. Romo lead his team down the field in 2 minutes, throwing a 13-yard game winning TD pass to Dez Bryant.
Week 12 ended with two games on Monday Night. The first at 7 was held in Detroit as a result of the harsh snowstorms in Buffalo. Even without practicing most of the week the Bills destroyed the Jets 38-3. Kyle Orton was solid going 24/32 for 230 yards and 2 TD’s. The other game on Monday Night was much more exciting as the Ravens traveled to New Orleans to take on the slumping Saints. The difference on Monday Night was Ravens RB Justin Forsett who ran for 182 yards and 2 TD’s. Drew Brees’ third quarter interception didn’t help the saints cause as the ravens won by one score. With the ravens 34-27 win, every team in the AFC North has 7 wins.
Other scores: San Francisco 17, Washington 13; San Diego 27, St. Louis 24