Atlanta 31 Buffalo 3
Now that the playoffs are not possible the Falcons decided to play for wins and pride. On Sunday they manhandled the Bills from the start. On the first play from scrimmage Matt Ryan hit Roddy White from 42 yards out to make it 7-0. The Bills would never be in the game from that point on. They managed just 187 total yards with only 40 coming via the run. Ryan finished 18-35 for 250 yards and three touchdowns. White had another scoring catch to close the scoring and finished with 139 yards on eight catches. The running tandem of Jason Snelling and Jerious Norwood combined for 28 carries for 120 yards and the defense is playing the way they had hoped they would all year. They held the Bills to 11 first downs and 2-10 in third down efficiency. They forced three turnovers and 10 penalties for 60 yards and two sacks. Next week they go to Tampa Bay to try and finish the year with a winning record.
Tampa Bay 20 New Orleans 17
The last fourth of this season has been really hard on the Saints. They started off so strong but have been exposed in the last month. The defense is the first thing that needs to be addressed and fast. They are finding ways to keep drives alive by allowing the big play, like the 77-yard punt return by Michael Spurlock to tie the game late in the fourth. They gave up 439 yards total yards to the Bucs. Tampa Bay was 7-12 on third downs and had the ball for 36 minutes. Not too bad for a team that started so bad. It was to the point where people were asking if head coach Raheem Morris could survive more than one year. New Orleans actually lead 17-0 and it was still 17-3 at the half. It would not be enough as Drew Brees was held under 300 yards passing and the Bucs defense came up big when they needed to. They took advantage of an injury to Saints running back Pierre Thomas and shut down the run game in the second half. Josh Freeman continued his evolution going 21-31 for 271 yards with no touchdowns and two picks. He did make a big play in the overtime that kept the winning drive alive. So Tampa continues to look like they are improving with each week and the Saints keep looking more vulnerable game after game. They and some fans thought they had won the game in regulation but Garrett Hartley missed a field goal from 37 yards out with five seconds left in the game. So Tampa moves on to finish the year next week looking to next year and the improvements they need to make. On a last note Morris may have saved his job with the team’s play in the last month or so.
Carolina 41 New York Giants 9
It was the last game at the Meadowlands and it hit home for me personally. I grew up going to that stadium and was looking to see the Gmen go out with a win. Unfortunately the Panthers had other plans. They came in with many questions in a season that had gone south. So, with not much to play for, they decided to show up and show out. Matt Moore had an effective day going 15-20 for 171 yards and three touchdowns. On top of that Jonathan Stewart ran all over the Giants defense to the tune of 206 yards on 28 carries and a score. The Panthers were 10-15 on third downs and had 416 total yards. They ran for 247 and forced four turnovers. The defense held the Giants to 60 yards rushing 27 minutes in time of possession. It was an ugly way for New York to go out as they showed no heart and little emotion. Eli Manning was 29-43 for 296 yards but he was playing from behind all day. It was 24-0 at the half and 34-3 by the end of the third. It was Carolina’s third win in their last four games and just like in Tampa that may have saved their coaches job for sure now.