Mike Smith and the Atlanta Falcons now own the league's best record (13-2) in 2012.
School has wrapped up for a number of NFL teams in 2012.
We now know the 10 clubs that are already headed to graduate school and two more looking to enroll for the next and most significant semester.
But exactly which two will be in the running for the ultimate diploma? We know all classes are filled in the AFC, where the New England Patriots, Baltimore Ravens, Houston Texans, Denver Broncos and Cincinnati Bengals are returning. The Indianapolis Colts are back after a one-year sabbatical.
In the NFC, the Green Bay Packers, Atlanta Falcons and San Francisco 49ers are back, while the Seattle Seahawks are also in for second time in three seasons.
As we have stated the first 15 weeks, please remember that the grades in this slideshow are based on a number of factors, not just wins and losses, final numbers, etc.
And as always, these are marks for this week’s performance and not a team’s overall play this season.
Have some hot chocolate or eggnog, and happy holidays to all!
Well, so much for the Arizona Cardinals' one-game winning streak.
A week after ending their nine-game skid with a victory over the Detroit Lions, Ken Whisenhunt’s team once again struggled on offense, handing the Chicago Bears two touchdowns and falling 28-13.
The Cards rushed for only 29 yards on 19 carries, amassed 248 total yards and their offensive unit failed to score a touchdown for the third time in four games.
Both starter Ryan Lindley and newest backup Brian Hoyer were sacked twice and intercepted once, with Lindley’s miscue being returned 10 yards for a touchdown by Bears cornerback Charles Tillman.
The Cardinals offense also gave up another easy score when running back Beanie Wells fumbled and Zack Bowman returned the gift one yard for a touchdown.
A forgettable 2012 campaign ends next Sunday.
Despite the league’s best win-loss record at 13-2, the Atlanta Falcons still have their share of critics. And those skeptics will probably remain until the current regime wins a playoff game.
Mike Smith’s team will once again get the opportunity to dispel that opposition. The Falcons wrapped up the top seed in the NFC for the second time in three seasons with an efficient 31-18 win over the Detroit Lions.
Quarterback Matt Ryan completed 25-of-32 passes for 279 yards and four touchdowns, including a pair of scores to wideout Roddy White. Ryan has now thrown a career-high 31 touchdown passes this season, once again improving on his personal best every year he’s been in the league.
Yes, Detroit rolled up 522 total yards on Mike Nolan’s defense, most of that through the air thanks to quarterback Matthew Stafford (443 yards). Failing to record a sack on 56 pass attempts is also a little surprising.
But Ryan and Co. continue to hum on offense. And if the Atlanta ground attack can ever get going, this could be an even more dangerous team.
Well, that’s one way to end a three-game losing streak.
The reeling Baltimore Ravens got back on track in a big way thanks to a dominating 33-14 victory over the defending Super Bowl champion New York Giants.
Quarterback Joe Flacco threw for 309 yards and a pair of scores, and running backs Bernard Pierce (123) and Ray Rice (107) took control as John Harbaugh’s club rolled up 533 total yards and kept the ball for 39:21.
On the other hand, New York was held to 186 total yards, and the Ravens defense held New York to 67 yards rushing and sacked Eli Manning three times.
Now let’s see how Baltimore handles next week’s trip to Cincinnati in a meeting between a pair of playoff-bound clubs.
No matter what kind of positive spin you try to put on it, it was another lost season for the Buffalo Bills.
Not only will there be no playoffs once again, extending the league’s longest current postseason drought, but the denizens of Orchard Park are in danger of finishing dead last in the AFC East for the fifth straight season.
The team’s 24-10 loss to the Miami Dolphins featured a productive performance by running back C.J. Spiller, who totaled 138 yards on the ground.
Meanwhile, the Bills handed out Christmas presents three days early courtesy of four turnovers, including a pair by quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick. And the Buffalo defense gave up 182 yards rushing on 35 carries in the 14-point setback.
Add in 11 penalties for 93 yards, and it was another long day in the latest long season for this franchise.
Is it a case of better late than never?
The Carolina Panthers won their fourth game in their last five, courtesy of a 17-6 victory over the visiting Oakland Raiders. Quarterback Cam Newton remained productive as Ron Rivera’s team equaled last season's victory total of six.
Newton led the team with 60 yards rushing and a touchdown. He also threw for another score as well as an interception.
That means last season’s rookie sensation has now thrown for 11 touchdowns and been picked off just once in his last six games. Add in 353 yards rushing and four touchdowns, and this was the quarterback that wowed the league in 2011.
Carolina’s defense limited the Raiders to 189 total yards as Oakland went through three quarterbacks by game’s end.
The Panthers can still avoid a last-place finish if things go well next week. But given what many thought may happen this season, that’s hardly an accomplishment.
There’s still a little life remaining in the Chicago Bears after all.
Led by their opportunistic defensive unit, which scored two of the team’s four touchdowns, Lovie Smith and Co. disposed of the mistake-prone Arizona Cardinals 28-13 and stayed alive in the NFC playoff race.
Less than seven minutes into the game, Zack Bowman returned a fumble by Cardinals running back Beanie Wells one yard for a score. In the third quarter, cornerback Charles Tillman took back a Ryan Lindley interception 10 yards for a touchdown.
Arizona managed only 248 yards of total offense, including just 29 yards on the ground, and its lone touchdown of the game came on a blocked field goal return.
It was far from a thing of beauty, but it certainly was a win of necessity.
Your team manages just 14 yards rushing on 16 attempts. Your quarterback throws two interceptions and is sacked six times. Your offensive unit gains 267 yards and fails to score a touchdown.
Cincinnati Bengals 13, Pittsburgh Steelers 10.
Marvin Lewis’ team wrapped up a playoff berth when it took advantage of a late interception of Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, setting up Josh Brown’s 43-yard field goal with four seconds left on the clock.
Following last season’s wild-card berth, the Bengals are making consecutive postseason appearances for the first time since they went to Super Bowl XVI in 1981 and followed that up with a trip to the playoffs in 1982.
And give a little credit to that Cincinnati defense, which sacked Roethlisberger four times, stole two of his passes (the first returned for a touchdown by cornerback Leon Hall) and held Pittsburgh to 280 total yards.
It’s the kind of defense that could pave the way for a playoff victory, something the Bengals haven’t achieved since the 1990 season.
After some promising play for a few weeks, these Cleveland Browns look like they’ve run out of gas.
The team’s 34-12 loss to the Denver Broncos on Sunday in the Mile High City meant that Pat Shurmur’s team had allowed a combined 72 points in consecutive losses to the Washington Redskins (38) and Broncos (34).
Cleveland’s ground game managed just 91 yards against the surging Denver defense, which sacked quarterbacks Brandon Weeden and Colt McCoy a combined six times.
Meanwhile, the Browns defense didn’t sack Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning, who threw for 339 yards and three scores with one interception. Dick Jauron’s defensive unit surrendered 457 total yards on the afternoon, the third time in four weeks the Browns gave up 400-plus yards of offense.
And unfortunately, Cleveland’s latest setback ensured a 10-plus-loss season for the fifth straight year and the ninth time in 10 seasons.
For the Dallas Cowboys, it certainly wasn’t for a lack of effort.
Playing in overtime for the third time in six games, Jason Garrett’s team couldn’t get it done despite a tremendous performance by quarterback Tony Romo. The Cowboys signal-caller completed 26-of-43 passes for 416 yards and four touchdowns, throwing for a pair of scores in the final four minutes to erase a 31-17 deficit.
But it proved to be all for naught as the Pokes couldn’t score on their first possession in overtime. But the New Orleans Saints did, and they came away with a 34-31 win.
Dez Bryant caught nine passes for 224 yards and a pair of 58-yard scores, but Dallas’ ground game totaled just 40 yards on 11 carries, all by running back DeMarco Murray.
Meanwhile, the Cowboys defense looked helpless against Brees, who threw for 446 yards and three scores and wasn’t sacked on the afternoon. And the absence of outside linebacker DeMarcus Ware for much of the second half didn’t help the cause.
Jason Garrett’s team is in the running for the NFC East title. But if they intend to beat the Washington Redskins next Sunday night, Rob Ryan’s defensive unit needs to do a little soul searching.
A year ago, eight wins (as well as losses) was good enough to make the Denver Broncos AFC West champions.
Now riding a league-high 10-game winning streak and with a 12-3 record (the most wins by the franchise since finishing 13-3 in 2005), John Fox’s club has its sights set on a first-round bye in the AFC playoffs.
Peyton Manning threw for 339 yards and three touchdowns (one interception), and the Denver defense roughed up a pair of Cleveland Browns quarterbacks for six sacks in the Broncos’ 34-12 victory.
Wideout Eric Decker was on the receiving end of two of Manning’s three scores, while Demaryius Thomas totaled nine receptions for 102 yards and a touchdown.
The Denver offense ran 75 plays and gained 457 yards in the victory. Meanwhile, Jack Del Rio’s defenders allowed just 233 total yards and a single touchdown as the Broncos continue to get better on that side of the ball.
The chase for the No. 1 seed in the AFC next Sunday will be interesting indeed.
Congratulations to Detroit Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson, who now owns the NFL’s receiving yardage record for a season with 1,892 yards and counting.
The prolific wideout caught 11 passes for 225 yards in Saturday night’s 31-18 loss to the Atlanta Falcons at Ford Field.
Unfortunately, those 11 catches equal the number of losses for Jim Schwartz’s disappointing team this season, which dropped its seventh straight game following a 4-4 start in 2012.
Quarterback Matthew Stafford threw for 443 yards but didn’t find the end zone and was intercepted once, part of three Detroit turnovers on the evening. And despite rolling up 522 total yards against Atlanta’s defense, Stafford and the offense managed only one touchdown.
Meanwhile, the Lions defense was victimized by Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan for four scores as the Atlanta signal-caller hit on 78.1 percent of his throws.
Last season’s 10-6 finish and long-awaited playoff appearance are but a distant memory.
It was vintage Aaron Rodgers at Lambeau Field on Sunday.
And if the Packers quarterback and defense perform like they did against the Tennessee Titans, we could be seeing a lot of Mike McCarthy’s club over the next month or so.
Green Bay’s 55-7 victory featured 342 yards passing and three scores from Rodgers, who also ran for a touchdown. McCarthy’s club outgained Tennessee by 280 total yards (460-180) and didn’t give up a score until less than two minutes remaining in the game.
The Packers also ran for 117 yards on 35 carries. The bulk of that came from old friend Ryan Grant, who rushed for 80 yards and a pair of touchdowns in his third game back with the team.
Defensively, Green Bay racked up seven sacks of Titans quarterback Jake Locker, who threw for only 140 yards while being picked off twice.
You don’t get extra credit in this league for large margins of victory, but you may get an extra boost of confidence when playing well on all sides of the ball.
Given what was and what remains at stake for the Houston Texans, it was a pretty perplexing performance for the two-time AFC South champions.
The 23-6 home loss to the Minnesota Vikings saw Gary Kubiak’s club gain a season-low 187 total yards in the 17-point setback. And in the showdown between top backs Adrian Peterson and Arian Foster, the NFL rushing leader gained 86 yards on 25 carries (ending an eight-game streak of 100-plus yards on the ground).
Meanwhile, Foster was limited to only 15 yards on 10 carries before leaving the game early in the third quarter for precautionary reasons (irregular heartbeat). However, the bottom line here is that the highly-regarded Houston ground attack totaled only 34 yards on 16 attempts by game’s end.
And Texans quarterback Matt Schaub, despite not throwing a touchdown pass or interception, was sacked three times and continued to look indecisive with his throws.
Suddenly, next week’s showdown with the Indianapolis Colts could change a lot of things for the team in terms of playoff seeding. And when you consider that the Texans are 0-10 lifetime at Indianapolis, that task is tall indeed.
A season ago, the Peyton Manning-less Indianapolis Colts lost their first 13 games and finished 2-14, tied for the worst win-loss record in the NFL.
Almost to the day one year later, the Andrew Luck-led Colts secured their 10th win of 2012 with a 20-13 triumph over the Kansas City Chiefs.
The victory kept alive one of the more bizarre streaks in the league. For the 16th consecutive season, the Colts have either won or lost 10 or more games.
More importantly, the franchise is back in the postseason for the 10th time in 11 years. But this week’s win wasn’t without its anxious moments; Bruce Arians’ team needed a Luck-to-Reggie Wayne touchdown pass with 4:08 to play to secure the victory.
Indianapolis’ defense allowed the Chiefs to gain 507 total yards, 352 on the ground. Jamaal Charles rolled up 226 yards rushing and the team’s only touchdown.
But a team that had forced a league-low 10 turnovers in 14 games came up with three takeaways on the afternoon, one of those a 32-yard interception return for a score by Darius Butler that opened the game’s scoring.
An amazing story keeps getting better.
With 5:43 remaining in the first quarter at Jacksonville on Sunday, the Jaguars owned a 10-0 lead over the New England Patriots.
That’s not a typo. But it was also a temporary situation as Mike Mularkey’s team was done scoring touchdowns this day. And when the dust finally cleared, the Patriots would hang on for a 23-16 win over a very feisty Jacksonville squad.
Mularkey’s club actually outgained the Pats in total yardage (436-349). And although quarterback Chad Henne would throw for 348 yards and a score by afternoon’s end, the former Miami Dolphins signal-caller was picked off three times, two of those miscues in the final quarter.
The Jaguars defense did a respectable job against Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, who threw for 267 yards, two touchdowns, two interceptions and was sacked three times.
Still, Mularkey’s club fell to 2-13 this season and set a franchise record for losses in a season.
This just in: The Kansas City Chiefs aren’t going anywhere in 2012 with the exception of the AFC West basement.
And at least for one week, Romeo Crennel’s club was looking to make sure the Indianapolis Colts weren’t going anywhere as well.
But despite big afternoons by running backs Jamaal Charles and Peyton Hillis, and an offense that rolled up 507 total yards, the Chiefs committed three costly turnovers and gave up a touchdown in the final five minutes en route to their 13th loss of the season.
The 20-13 setback at Arrowhead Stadium saw the team roll up 352 yards rushing, the vast majority of that by Charles (226) and Hillis (101). But it also saw Crennel’s club commit three-plus turnovers for the eighth time this season.
Meanwhile, the Kansas City defense gave up only 288 total yards and sacked Colts quarterback Andrew Luck three times. But as had been the case for most of the season, the Chiefs couldn’t make the key play when they needed it most.
It was far from spectacular, but it was highly efficient for the Miami Dolphins.
Running back Reggie Bush had 65 yards rushing and a score. He also caught a pair of touchdown passes from quarterback Ryan Tannehill in the Dolphins' 24-10 win over the Bills.
The Dolphins sacked Bills quarterback Ran Fitzpatrick just twice but also totaled four takeaways in winning their second straight game. Miami’s defense did give up 154 yards rushing, 138 of that to C.J. Spiller, but it also held the Bills out of the end zone until midway through the fourth quarter.
And thanks mainly to Bush and rookie Lamar Miller (73 yards), Joe Philbin’s club rolled up 182 yards of its own on the ground.
Another good job by a Dolphins team that appears to be building on something
In recent weeks, it’s been all about Adrian Peterson when it comes to the Minnesota Vikings. Perhaps head coach Leslie Frazier should warrant some attention as well.
The Vikings inched closer to an unexpected playoff appearance thanks to a surprising 23-6 victory over the Houston Texans.
While Peterson was held to just 86 yards rushing, Minnesota rolled up 174 yards on the ground and held the Texans running attack to a mere 34 yards on 16 carries. The Vikings also limited Matt Schaub to just 178 yards passing.
Even more impressive is the fact that the 9-6 Vikings have now won as many games as their previous two seasons combined (9-23).
Now we just have to wait a week to see if that’s good enough to put Frazier, Peterson and the Purple Gang in the playoffs.
Thanks to a pair of fourth-quarter interceptions by safety Patrick Chung, the New England Patriots held off a determined Jacksonville Jaguars team, erasing a 10-0 first-quarter deficit and holding on for a 23-16 victory.
Quarterback Tom Brady threw for 267 yards and two more touchdowns. But Brady also threw two interceptions for the second straight game and was sacked three times by a Jacksonville defense that had totaled a league-low 15 sacks in its first 14 games in 2012.
Thanks to the events in Houston on Sunday, Bill Belichick’s club could still secure the No. 1 seed in the AFC.
However, it’s been a strange few weeks for the Patriots, who have turned over the football six times in their last two games after giving it up only 10 times in their first 13 games.
And look for Belichick to do a little fine tuning before his team takes the field against the Miami Dolphins next week.
The New Orleans Saints made a valiant attempt at becoming just the second team in NFL history to overcome a 0-4 start and reach the playoffs.
Despite a 34-31 overtime win over the Dallas Cowboys, Joe Vitt’s team won’t be back in the postseason in 2012.
A big day for quarterback Drew Brees almost went to waste as the Saints defense blew a 14-point lead in the final four minutes of the game.
But the prolific signal-caller completed 37-of-53 passes for 446 yards and three scores, and the New Orleans ground game totaled 166 yards.
The Saints defense has been a season-long issue, and when the Cowboys erased a 31-17 deficit in the final 3:35, it looked like it would cost the Cajuns once again.
But Vitt’s club got a great break in overtime when wideout Marques Colston fumbled after a nine-yard catch. When it was all said and done, the team picked up 22 yards on the play after tight end Jimmy Graham’s recovery at the Dallas two-yard line.
No doubt the 7-8 Saints look to avoid a losing season as the Carolina Panthers come to town next week. But it will certainly be an offseason of “what ifs” in the Crescent City.
This is the time of year that the New York Giants put it all together and make one of their amazing Super Bowl runs.
Well, if Tom Coughlin’s defending champions are to pull that off in 2012, it would be amazing indeed.
A week after being blasted in the Georgia Dome 34-0 by the Atlanta Falcons, it was a Big Black and Blue outing for the Giants, who gave up 533 total yards in a humbling 33-14 loss to the Baltimore Ravens.
That means New York has allowed 67 points in its last two games, not the kind of defense you want to be playing this time of the year. During the Giants’ Super Bowl XLVI run a year ago, Coughlin’s club allowed only 56 points in four postseason wins.
Ah, the postseason. It’s still a possibility for this team as it hosts the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday. But we’re going to have to see something much different than the Giants have shown us the last two weeks.
The New York Jets got a pair of touchdown runs by Shonn Greene in the first quarter, but the offense failed to find the end zone the remainder of the game. By afternoon’s end, Rex Ryan’s team was on the short end of a 27-17 decision with the San Diego Chargers.
The Jets managed only 225 yards of total offense and newest starting quarterback Greg McElroy committed the team’s only two turnovers of the game. Of course, when your first NFL start is made memorable by the fact that you were sacked 11 times and completed 14 passes, there’s nowhere to go but up.
In fact, the team’s longest pass play came courtesy of wideouts Jeremy Kerley and Edwin Gates, the former taking a direct snap early in the first quarter and hitting the later for 42 yards.
But those plays were few and far between for the Jets. And at 6-9, Ryan will suffer through his first losing season with the Jets.
You could take some positives from the Oakland Raiders' 17-6 loss to the Carolina Panthers.
Unfortunately, there aren’t many.
A week after pitching a shutout against the Kansas City Chiefs, Dennis Allen’s team gave up just 17 points in the setback and limited Carolina to only 271 yards of total offense.
But the Silver and Black failed to reach their opponent’s end zone for the second straight Sunday, limited to a pair of Sebastian Janikowski field goals.
Fortunately for the Raiders, an even worse season by the Kansas City Chiefs (2-13) keeps Allen’s team out of the AFC West basement. But for the eighth time in the last 10 seasons, this franchise has lost at least 11 games.
And there’s no way to put a positive spin on that.
If this was head coach Andy Reid’s final game with the Eagles in Philadelphia, his team didn’t go down without a fight.
The 27-20 setback to the Washington Redskins saw the Birds score both the first and last touchdown of the contest. In between, the Eagles defense was kept off balance by Washington’s balanced attack.
The Redskins ran for 128 yards on 28 carries while quarterback Robert Griffin III was sacked just once on 24 attempts.
And although Eagles quarterback Nick Foles completed 32-of-48 passes for 345 yards and a score, he was sacked five times and committed a pair of turnovers.
At 4-11, the Birds have already totaled their most losses in a season since finishing 5-11 during Reid’s first season with the franchise in 1999.
It’s shaping up as an unfair but perhaps fitting end to an era in Philadelphia.
The lack of consistency by the Pittsburgh Steelers for the majority of the 2012 season will not be an issue come playoff time.
That’s because Mike Tomlin’s team dropped its third straight game on Sunday. And the 13-10 loss at home to the Cincinnati Bengals eliminated the perennial powerhouse from the postseason and guaranteed Pittsburgh's leader would be dealing with his first non-winning season since taking over the team in 2007.
Dick LeBeau’s defense limited Cincinnati to a paltry 14 yards rushing, sacked Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton six times and intercepted him twice, part of three takeaways on the afternoon.
But Tomlin’s club also turned over the football three times, giving the Steelers 21 turnovers in their last six games. That included a pair of interceptions by quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, whose second miscue of the day set up a Josh Brown 43-yard field goal with four seconds to play.
Roethlisberger’s first interception of the afternoon was returned 17 yards for a touchdown by cornerback Leon Hall, the Bengals’ only touchdown of the game.
For a franchise known for its stability, it could be an intriguing offseason for the Black and Gold.
Chalk another up for the St. Louis Rams defense.
Jeff Fisher’s club sacked Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Josh Freeman five times and stole four of his passes, returning one for a score in a tidy 28-13 road win.
Quarterback Sam Bradford wasn’t overly sharp, but he did throw a pair of touchdown passes despite being picked off once. Running back Steven Jackson added 81 yards and a score on 19 carries, outrushing the Bucs (80 yards) on his own.
It was a pretty complete effort, and the victory keeps the 7-7-1 Rams in the hunt for a winning season, something many felt wasn’t necessarily a realistic goal at start of 2012.
If by chance the San Diego Chargers’ franchise ever does relocate (it seems to be a popular subject from time to time), they might want to consider heading east.
That’s because for the second time in three weeks, the Bolts flew cross country and got a win, first in Pittsburgh in Week 14 and now a 27-17 victory over the New York Jets.
Quarterback Philip Rivers threw for just 165 yards but connected on a pair of scores to Danario Alexander and Antonio Gates. And while the Chargers signal-caller was sacked four times, he played turnover-free football.
But Rivers was treated kindly compared to Jets quarterback Greg McElroy, who was sacked 11 times by afternoon’s end.
The Chargers also got a 63-yard punt return for a touchdown by Michael Spurlock. And after falling behind 14-7 in the first quarter, Norv Turner’s team scored 20 straight points to decide the issue.
A win over the Oakland Raiders next week would be a nice way to close the season. Unfortunately, that’s not much solace for a club that will miss the playoffs for a third straight year.
In all honesty, the above grade was just about all the D we saw from the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday night at the Pacific Northwest.
True, Jim Harbaugh’s team “only” gave up 346 total yards, but when you give up a season-high 176 yards rushing and allow a team to convert on 12 of its 13 attempts on third down, the 42-13 score makes more sense.
The 49ers can still win the NFC West by beating the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday, but Harbaugh’s club has suddenly allowed 76 points in its last two games.
While some may think there’s no reason for the 49ers to worry, at the very least there has to be a slight cause for concern in the Bay Area this morning.
To quote legendary broadcaster Keith Jackson, "Whoa, Nellie!"
And to those who questioned the validity of the Seattle Seahawks’ combined 108 points in wins over the Arizona Cardinals (58-0) and Buffalo Bills (50-17), their resounding 42-13 victory over the 49ers silenced the critics.
It also secured a playoff spot for Pete Carroll’s team and kept the Seahawks in the race for the NFC West title.
The Seahawks rolled up 176 yards rushing (111 by Marshawn Lynch) and got four touchdown passes from quarterback Russell Wilson.
Carroll’s team limited the Niners to just 82 yards on the ground and forced a pair of turnovers. That doesn’t include a blocked field goal by defensive lineman Red Bryant that teammate Richard Sherman took back 90 yards for a touchdown.
The 10-5 Seahawks have now scored 150 points in their last three games.
Last season, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers opened the season 4-2 and lost their final 10 games.
Well, Greg Schiano’s Bucs have now lost their last five games after opening the season 6-4, courtesy of a 28-13 setback at home to the St. Louis Rams.
For the second consecutive Sunday, quarterback Josh Freeman threw four interceptions. His team’s lone touchdown of the game came via a Mike Williams 61-yard reception midway through the third quarter.
Freeman was sacked five times while the Buccaneers ground game managed only 80 yards.
Going out with a whimper rather than a bang is getting pretty old in Tampa.
A long year got even longer at Lambeau Field this weekend for the Tennessee Titans.
Mike Munchak’s club totaled 180 yards on offense and just 10 first downs, and Jake Locker completed only 13-of-30 passes for a mere 140 yards and a late score. He was also sacked seven times and threw a pair of interceptions.
Meanwhile, the Pack rolled up 460 total yards and seven offensive touchdowns. The Titans have now allowed a league-high 451 points, and Sunday’s effort marked the eighth time in 15 games in 2012 that Munchak’s team allowed at least 30 points in a game.
With a 5-10 record just one season after finishing 9-7, the Titans are easily one of the league’s most disappointing teams.
Rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III returned to the lineup following a one-game absence and threw for 198 yards and a pair of scores (one interception).
Alfred Morris chipped in with 91 yards rushing and a touchdown, and Mike Shanahan’s team took care of business in the City of Brotherly Love.
The Washington Redskins' 27-20 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles was the sixth straight for Shanahan’s club.
The Redskins defense did give up 411 total yards, with Eagles rookie quarterback Nick Foles throwing for 345 yards and a touchdown.
Simply put, if the ‘Skins can defeat the Dallas Cowboys next Sunday night at FedExField, the franchise will capture its first division title since 1999.