For the second consecutive week, the NFL had a team playing a game after the tragic loss of a teammate. Yet the Dallas Cowboys found a way to defeat the Cincinnati Bengals amidst the tragic loss of Jeremy Brown.
Two teams with little playoff hopes, the San Diego Chargers and Philadelphia Eagles, both went on the road and got huge victories. They beat two teams fighting for playoff spots in the Pittsburgh Steelers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
The Seattle Seahawks embarrassed the Arizona Cardinals and showed that they are going to be a tough out in the playoffs. Meanwhile the Houston Texans and Atlanta Falcons both lost for a second time this season and appeared to be worse than their record might have indicated.
Let’s jump in and take a look at the teams, players and plays that were good, bad and ugly in Week 14.
David Wilson single-handedly ended any hopes the New Orleans Saints might have had of upsetting the New York Giants. After Elbert Mack returned an Eli Manning interception 73 yards to give the Saints a 7-0 lead, Wilson tied the game with his 97-yard kickoff return for a touchdown.
Wilson constantly gave the Giants great field position with his returns. He finished with 227 return yards on four attempts for an average of 56.8 yards per kick return.
Wilson was also a force to be reckoned with on the offensive side of the ball. He rushed for 100 yards on 13 carries and scored two TDs on the ground.
Not bad for a guy who was once in Tom Coughlin’s doghouse.
Not that he inherited a great situation, but Ryan Lindley stunk up the place when he came in. When Lindley took over in the third quarter for the Arizona Cardinals, the score was 48-0 in favor of the Seattle Seahawks.
Still Lindley could not even complete half his passes, going 8-of-17 for 59 yards. He was sacked twice, lost a fumble and ended with a miserable 55.8 passer rating.
Guess you could say he picked up where he left off.
If Ryan Lindley was bad then John Skelton was definitely UGLY!
This was Skelton’s first action since being yanked out of the game against the Atlanta Falcons back in Week 11. He did not show any improvement. As a matter of fact, he might have regressed as a quarterback.
Skelton was pulled again in the third quarter and it might be the last time we see Skelton as quarterback of the Arizona Cardinals. Skelton left the game with a 18.2 passer rating on 11-of-22 passing for 74 yards, zero touchdowns and four interceptions.
He also fumbled twice, losing the ball once.
The Dallas Cowboys defense was playing with a heavy heart. Having one of their teammates pass away less than 40 hours before the game and with another teammate in jail, nobody expected the remaining Cowboys defenders to stop the Cincinnati Bengals offense.
However, nobody told the Cowboys that fact. Anthony Spencer led the way with two sacks and a team-leading 11 tackles (five solo), and the defense held the Bengals to 19 points.
They held BenJarvus Green-Ellis to under 100 yards rushing and limited A.J. Green to 44 yards on 3 receptions.
At one point late in the third quarter, with rookie Morris Claiborne, DeMarcus Ware and Anthony Spencer all out with various injuries, the Cowboys had just two original starters out on the field, yet they managed to stop the Bengals when they needed to get the ball back to Tony Romo and the offense.
One week after putting it together for one game, the Kansas City Chiefs were back to new lows. The Chiefs passing attack wasn't an attack at all. It was downright awful.
Brady Quinn was sacked five times and was wild and inaccurate passing the ball. He finished with a meager 53.5 passer rating and completed less than 50 percent of his passes, going 10-of-21 for 159 yards.
Quinn threw one interception and the team only managed 130 yards passing.
There is no way an 11-1 football team should ever allow a 3-9 club to gain over 300 yards of total offense, much less 475 yards. That is exactly what happened to the Atlanta Falcons defense.
They allowed Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers to run all over the field. Newton passed for 287 yards and two touchdowns. He also rushed nine times for a whopping 116 yards, which included a beautiful 72-yard touchdown run.
Atlanta also allowed Carolina to convert on third-down plays 60 percent of the time and Carolina was also 1-for-1 on fourth down.
The Minnesota Vikings rode running back Adrian Peterson all the way to victory as they defeated the Chicago Bears 21-14. Peterson was in beast mode early, as he rushed for 51 yards on the Vikings' first play from scrimmage and never looked back.
Peterson gained 154 yards on 31 carries for an impressive 5.0 yards per carry. He scored two touchdowns and added another 16 yards on two receptions. Peterson leads the league in rushing with 1,600 yards and is averaging 6.0 yards per carry with 10 touchdowns on the season.
It appears as if Chad Henne has come back down to earth. After back-to-back games with passer ratings over 100, Henne has now posted sub-58 passer ratings in consecutive games.
This week against the New York Jets, Henne completed a little over 48 percent of his passes and finished with a passer rating of 41.3. He tossed a pair of interceptions and zero touchdowns on 21-of-43 passing for 185 yards.
The Houston Texans proved that they were not ready for prime time. They showed up to New England wearing letterman jackets and it was certainly fitting, as they played like a high school team on Monday Night Football against the Patriots.
Matt Schaub never got going and finished the game with a 68.8 passer rating. The offense struggled throughout the entire game. They were shut out in the first half and never threatened the Patriots.
If they want to be considered an elite ball club, they need to play better under the big lights.
Brady stood in the pocket and took some big hits, but time after time he delivered perfect passes. He tossed four touchdown passes and finished the night with a 125.4 passer rating.
Brady had 296 yards on 21-of-35 passing. His 63-yard touchdown pass to Donte Stallworth in the third quarter was picture-perfect.
Throughout the game, the Bengals moved the ball well but stalled in the red zone. Receivers dropping passes were the biggest culprits.
The Bengals dropped five passes and four of them came inside the red zone. If any one of those four drops was caught, it might have altered the outcome of the game.
And what happened to A.J. Green? He was held to just three receptions for 44 yards and zero touchdowns.
The Giants had huge returns all night long and were able to gain 287 yards on five returns. Giants rookie David Wilson gained 227 on his own and scored on a 97-yard kickoff return in the first quarter.
On defense, the Saints continued to allow tons of big plays. They allowed six Giants touchdowns on offense, including TDs of 10, 25 and 52 yards.
Maybe Andy Reid knew what he was doing with rookie Nick Foles. Facing a 21-10 deficit in the fourth quarter, Foles tossed a pair of touchdown passes in the final four minutes of the game to lead the Eagles to a come-from-behind 23-21 victory.
Foles finished the game with an impressive 98.6 passer rating on 32-of-51 passing for 381 yards. Foles also added 27 yards rushing, including a 10-yard touchdown run in the second quarter. Equally impressive was the fact that Foles apparently called his own made-up play to set up the final touchdown pass.
I will end this week's edition with another good slide. How about the Seattle Seahawks. All of them!
The Seahawks crushed the Arizona Cardinals 58-0 as everyone got involved.
On offense, running back Marshawn Lynch rushed for 128 yards and three touchdowns. Russell Wilson tossed a touchdown pass to Zach Miller just before halftime.
The defense scored twice in the second quarter and held the Cardinals to 154 yards of total offense. The defense also forced eight turnovers and harassed both Cardinals quarterbacks, sacking them three times.