Handing Out Game Balls for Every Game After NFL Week 12
In every NFL game, there is at least one player who makes a particularly strong impact toward a winning effort. This player is then rewarded with a game ball.
In Week 12, there were dozens of game-ball-worthy performances, but only one could be chosen from the winning team of each game.
Read on to see who did the most to help his team win in Week 12.
Houston Texans vs. Detroit Lions
Game Ball: Andre Johnson
While Matt Schaub and Arian Foster both had big games, Andre Johnson's performance was especially mammoth. Nine-catch, 188-yard games don't happen just every day.
Johnson never did cross into the end zone, but his play goes beyond scoring touchdowns. He was instrumental to Houston moving the ball downfield and scoring by other means.
There was nothing Detroit could do to stop Johnson, and Houston's entire passing attack revolved around the star wideout.
Washington Redskins vs. Dallas Cowboys
Game Ball: Robert Griffin III
Robert Griffin continued to look unstoppable, as he completed 20 of his 28 passes for 311 yards, four touchdowns and a 132.6 quarterback rating. Clearly, Dallas had no answer for RG3.
Griffin led the Washington offense to 38 points, and though Alfred Morris did break 100 yards, Griffin was what made the offense run. The Redskins' entire offense revolves around Griffin.
Following an even better game against Philadelphia, Griffin was nearly flawless here. Clearly, he is making a difference for Washington.
New England Patriots vs. New York Jets
Game Ball: Tom Brady
This was a pretty typical Tom Brady performance. He completed 18 of his 28 passes for 323 yards and three touchdowns. New England had several other productive players, but Brady, per the usual, stood above the rest.
The Patriots absolutely annihilated the Jets, and Brady wasn't to be stopped. Though New England did run the ball, Brady is what made the offense move.
A number of Patriots skill players put together solid games, but none stood above the rest. This is why Brady again ends up with the game ball.
Minnesota Vikings vs. Chicago Bears
Game Ball: Jay Cutler
There really isn't a worthy candidate in this game. If the Vikings had won, Adrian Peterson would be the obvious choice, but no Bears stood out as overly good.
Jay Cutler probably deserves the game ball the most, though, as he led the Chicago offense to 28 points. Cutler completed an impressive 23-of-31 passes but gained just 188 yards while throwing a pick and a touchdown.
If any Bears player had put together a game at all worth remembering, it would have been an easy decision. In the end, though, Cutler gets the ball for completing passes and leading a successful offense.
Cincinnati Bengals vs. Oakland Raiders
Game Ball: BenJarvus Green-Ellis
Andy Dalton's three touchdowns and A.J. Green's 111 yards are both worthy candidates here, but BenJarvus Green-Ellis really carried the Cincinnati offense. The Law Firm rushed for 129 yards on just 19 carries, scoring one touchdown.
Green-Ellis got off to a hot start, and the Bengals continued to rely on him throughout the game. Oakland could do nothing to stop him from gaining yards on the ground.
Cincinnati absolutely dominated this game, and Green-Ellis' play was a big reason why. The Bengals offense would not have been nearly as dominant without his huge production.
Cleveland Browns vs. Pittsburgh Steelers
Game Ball: Joe Haden
Joe Haden not only forced two turnovers against the Steelers but also completely shut down Mike Wallace. Haden picked off Charlie Batch once and also forced a fumble.
Aside from the two turnovers, Haden limited Wallace to one catch on seven targets for nine yards. That's an excellent percentage for Haden, as he completely eliminated Wallace from the game.
Cleveland won this game because of its defense, and in a game full of turnovers, Haden made the biggest individual impact for the Browns.
Buffalo Bills vs. Indianapolis Colts
Game Ball: T.Y. Hilton
With two touchdowns, T.Y. Hilton was clearly a huge scorer for the Colts, who put up a raging 20 points against Buffalo. Hilton brought back a punt for 75 yards and also scored on an eight-yard pass from Andrew Luck.
Hilton didn't contribute much else as a receiver, but these two plays are enough. The rookie wideout at least partially accounted for 14 of Indianapolis' 20 points.
The versatile play of Hilton was key here. He created for himself on special teams and also helped the offense score.
Tennessee Titans vs. Jacksonville Jaguars
Game Ball: Cecil Shorts
Four catches for 105 yards makes for a pretty solid performance. As the Jaguars upset Tennessee, Cecil Shorts again showed up, making one huge play for Jacksonville.
Chad Henne played reasonably well, but his performance was nothing special. Shorts, on the other hand, may have made the difference in the game.
Shorts has proven he's an explosive athlete capable of making huge plays, and that showed up against the Titans.
Denver Broncos vs. Kansas City Chiefs
Game Ball: Peyton Manning
By Peyton Manning standards, this wasn't that impressive of a game. However, Manning was still the best and most important player to the Broncos.
Manning's 285 yards and two touchdowns accounted for most of Denver's scoring and the great majority of its yardage. The Broncos would not have even competed without Manning.
Knowshon Moreno also played well, as did Demaryius Thomas. However, neither player made the difference in the game like Manning clearly did.
Seattle Seahawks vs. Miami Dolphins
Game Ball: Ryan Tannehill
Miami got off to a rough start here and won only because of a late comeback led by, you guessed it, Ryan Tannehill.
Even with the early struggles, Tannehill completed 18 of his 26 passes for 253 yards and a touchdown. Not a brilliant game, but not a bad one either.
The Dolphins scored 17 points in the last eight minutes or so, with Tannehill leading the charge. Though Reggie Bush was also a consideration here, Tannehill's leadership down the stretch secured him the game ball.
Atlanta Falcons vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Game Ball: Matt Ryan
Save for a single interception, Matt Ryan was nearly flawless against Tampa Bay. He threw for just one touchdown but completed 81.3 percent of his passes for 353 yards.
Atlanta barely squeaked by the Buccaneers, but Ryan's play was still superb. If he is even a little less excellent, Tampa Bay likely wins.
Julio Jones, who had 147 receiving yards and a touchdown, is also a worthy candidate here. However, Ryan led the Falcons on every drive and was simply brilliant on the game.
Baltimore Ravens vs San Diego Chargers
Game Ball: Torrey Smith
Baltimore fell behind to San Diego early but rebounded for the victory, in part due to the outstanding play of Torrey Smith. Smith's seven receptions for 144 yards were devastating to the Chargers.
Even without a touchdown, Smith had a pretty incredible game here. He made multiple plays and ended up with an impressive total figure.
With 355 passing yards, Joe Flacco was also a consideration here, but he had a more flawed game than did Smith. Ray Rice's 97 rushing and 65 receiving yards also put him in consideration.
St. Louis Rams vs. Arizona Cardinals
Game Ball: Janoris Jenkins
With two pick-sixes against the Cardinals, Janoris Jenkins is an easy pick here. Jenkins intercepted Ryan Lindley in the second and third quarters with returns of 36 and 39 yards, respectively.
St. Louis needed a second-half comeback but eventually defeated Arizona by 14 points. Jenkins' two interceptions are the difference in the game.
Even if Jenkins did make a couple mistakes, two plays of this magnitude more than make up for it. The rookie cornerback stole the show here.
San Francisco 49ers vs. New Orleans Saints
Game Ball: Ahmad Brooks
It's hard to choose just one player here, but Ahmad Brooks' interception for a touchdown and 1.5 sacks puts him above the rest. Really, though, this was a team win for the 49ers.
Brooks clearly dominated, forcing losses of yardage and turnovers. San Francisco did a tremendous job of limiting New Orleans to just 21 points, and Brooks was at the center of that.
This could have also gone to Colin Kaepernick, but his performance didn't stand out as especially dominant.
Green Bay Packers vs. New York Giants
Game Ball: Eli Manning
As the Giants rumbled over Green Bay, Eli Manning put together a fantastic performance. Manning threw for 249 yards with three touchdowns and zero interceptions.
Throughout the game, Manning avoided mistakes and consistently got yardage. He didn't simply dump the ball off but created plays on his own.
Both Manning and the Giants needed this after two rough losses. Though his stats weren't incredible, Manning played well and led his team to a 28-point win over an elite team.
Carolina Panthers vs. Philadelphia Eagles
Game Ball: Cam Newton
Cam Newton hasn't been playing up to his 2011 standards this year, but this game reminded us of old times. With four touchdowns and 358 yards, Newton carried the Panthers to victory over the Eagles.
Newton didn't turn the ball over and was efficient throwing the ball. He was essentially the only working part of Carolina's offense all game.
No other Panther really stood out, and Newton was the easy pick here. He put together a terrific performance without a ton of help.