Dallas 24 New Orleans 17
Now that the Saints have gotten the perfect record thing out of the way maybe they can get back to playing football. The last month has seen this team struggle with a few teams and they have been exposed on defense as well. This past Saturday the Cowboys had aspirations of beating the Saints. Granted, it was a long shot but they still had a chance. Players like Tony Romo said that if the Boys played their game they could win. Well it appears that the rest of the world didn’t believe when Dallas did and they came out smoking. They put pressure on Drew Brees from the start of the game and ended up sacking him four times while forcing two fumbles that Brees lost. He was hit on many occasions and for three quarters could not put his team in the end zone. Dallas struck immediately in the first when Romo hit Miles Austin for a 49-yard touchdown to make it 7-0. At halftime is was 14-3 and when Marion Barber ran it in from two in the third the game looked lost to the Saints. In the fourth it became a different story as Brees began to move his team and finally hit pay dirt when Mike Bell scored from one-yard out. Now it was 24-10 with just over 12 minutes to go. When Lance Moore pulled in a Brees pass to make it 24-17 the Saints were back in it. Dallas got the ball back and looked to go three and out when Romo hooked up with Austin for a huge 32-yard gain and the first down. After moving the ball 74 yards on 10 plays the Cowboys set up for a 24-yard chip shot by Nick Folk to extend the lead to 10. Somehow it hit the upright and the Saints got the ball back with a chance to tie or win the game. So here were the Saints with the ball and a little more than two minutes to go. The ball was at their 20 and Brees proceeded to move the ball down the field. Just like that DeMarcus Ware stepped in and stripped Brees for the second time of the day and that was that. New Orleans was no longer undefeated and they could now look to the bigger challenge of finishing with the number one seed in the NFC. 19-0 is good, but more than that, they want finish strong in December and January to get to the Super Bowl.
Atlanta 10 New York Jets 7
The Falcons came into this game with nothing to play for and for about 58 minutes they played just like that. The Jets defense pushed them around and dominated for most of the game. The Falcons did get on the scoreboard first when Matt Bryant hit a 24-yard field goal to make it 3-0 in the first. That would all the offense Atlanta cold muster as they punted seven times after that and missed a field goal later. They finished with 238 yards of offense and 73 of those came on the final drive. Matt Ryan returned at quarterback and was just 16-34 for 152 yards and one touchdown. The running game was ineffective as Michael Turner hurt himself again and Jason Snelling could not get off. Atlanta had only 12 first downs and they were just 7-18 on third down efficiency. Still as the saying goes you have to play the full 60 minutes, the Jets did not, and the Falcons did. With 4:27 left in the game the Falcons got the ball with one last shot at putting a dent in the Jets playoff aspirations. On a third and five from their own 32 Ryan hit Jerius Norwood for nine yards and the first down. On another third down play Ryan got another first down when he hit Roddy White for 16 yards and a face mask penalty on the Jets moved the ball to the New York 27. One last third down from the six and this time it failed when Ryan’s pass to Tony Gonzalez fell short. The Falcons took a timeout to discuss their options while the Jets knew all they had to do was get a stop and remain one game behind the Patriots in the AFC East. They decided to go for it and lined up in the shotgun again. They threw the same pass to Gonzalez again and this time he caught it in the end zone for the lead with 1:38 left in the game. The Jets took over but Mark Sanchez was intercepted for the third time on the game and Atlanta pulled out the victory. They were able to win the game and put the Jets playoff hopes in jeopardy. This is how you play football when you are out of the playoff hunt. Stay hungry and play with pride.
Tampa Bay 24 Seattle 7
Near the end of the game the stands were about empty, but some very irritated fans stayed to watch their team tank another game. The Bucs had just put a whipping on their team to win just their second game of the year. Josh Freeman bounced back from two horrible games to throw two touchdown passes while going 16-26 for 205 yards. Derrick Ward and Cadillac Williams each ran for a touchdown and Connor Barth kicked three field goals as Tampa Bay won on the road for the first time since last year. The Tampa defense recorded a sack; four interceptions and a lost fumble to the hapless Seahawks. Williams and Ward combined for 31 carries for 133 yards and Kellen Winslow chipped in with 93 yards on six receptions. Their record is now 2-12 but the team has been playing inspired football even when they are losing. It has been a rough season but some of the players feel like the team is headed in the right direction. Head coach Raheem Morris is in his first year and we will see if he makes it to a second. One thing is for sure with Freeman, Williams and Ward the team has a future to build on. They also have player s like Winslow and a kicker that is sure fire. Now let’s see how they put those pieces together for the final two games of the year. Granted they are at New Orleans and then at home for the finale against the Falcons. Still there is room for learning and working towards next year.
Carolina 26 Minnesota 7
Once again no one knows what Panther team will show up but if this one would show up every week they would be in the playoff running now. With no reason to play except to play the game itself, the Panthers stuck to Brett Favre and the Vikings in dominating fashion. They scored 20 unanswered points in the fourth quarter and sent the Vikings reeling. Matt Moore had a career day going 21-33 for 299 yards and his first three-touchdown game of his career. Jonathan Stewart ran all over the Viking defense for 109 yards on 25 carries and a rushing touchdown. He also had a touchdown catch from two-yards out to cap the scoring. The Panther defense was fantastic harassing Favre repeatedly and sacking him four times. Julius Peppers was in Favre face all night to the point where head coach Brad Childress thought of removing his star quarterback for safety purposes. Favre got angry and the two had a heated discussion. It was all for naught as the Panthers came out firing in the fourth as Steve Smith pulled in a 42-yard pass for the score to make it 12-7. Smith finished the game with nine catches for 157 yards and the Carolina defense held the Vikings to 10 first downs, 237 total yards and 1-10 on third down conversions. It was a dominating performance for sure but the Panthers need a lot of help. They have no answer to the question for the quarterback of the future. Sure Moore is 4-2 but he is still unproven. The defense will undergo an overhaul and there is still the question about the future of coach John Fox. Still for one Sunday things were right in Carolina and they will take that any day.