Why Week 14 in the NFL Was One of Our Favorite NFL Sundays Ever
If you like the NFL, you probably loved what Week 14 had to offer.
There was a little bit of everything, from snowstorms and broken records to questionable calls and amazing comebacks.
While there are still three weeks of the season remaining, we feel pretty confident that Dec. 8 will go down as the most entertaining afternoon of the year and one of the most memorable in recent regular-season history.
There was something for every fan; let's take a look at why.
Snow, ice, wind and frigid temperatures were prevalent in a few contests during the early games.
The craziest conditions, however, were in Philadelphia, where the Eagles and Detroit Lions battled to overcome each other and Mother Nature.
Forget about a bad-weather game—this game featured some of the worst weather any pro game has ever seen. (Don't adjust your television; that is snowfall in the video above.)
The field might have been nearly impossible to see, but the points weren't exactly hard to come by. Despite going into halftime down 8-0, the Eagles managed to surge ahead in the second half to win 34-20.
Philadelphia earned the victory and helped out its playoff chances thanks largely to the hard running of LeSean McCoy, who finished with a career-high 217 yards and two touchdowns.
We love meaningful football games, and Sunday had plenty of them.
Only one team, the Seattle Seahawks, had clinched a playoff spot before Sunday. The New England Patriots, Indianapolis Colts and Denver Broncos entered the day with an opportunity to punch their ticket to the postseason.
The Pittsburgh Steelers, Arizona Cardinals, Miami Dolphins, San Diego Chargers and Baltimore Ravens were fighting to keep their playoff hopes alive.
Indianapolis and Denver managed to clinch, though it took a Tennessee Titans loss for the Colts to get the job done.
Baltimore defeated the Minnesota Vikings in a wild game that will be discussed later, while the Dolphins knocked off the Steelers to stay alive. The Cardinals also earned an easy victory over the St. Louis Rams.
The Philadelphia Eagles ensured they will hold at least part of the NFC East lead with a win over the Detroit Lions on Sunday.
LeSean McCoy's Weird-Weather Performance
The combination of snow and ice might make for poor footing on the football field, but it did little to slow McCoy, who produced a bad-weather rampage for the ages.
Eagles quarterback Nick Foles threw his first interception of the season and managed just 179 yards passing on the afternoon. However, Philadelphia probably could have handed off to McCoy all afternoon and still come out a winner.
McCoy racked up 217 yards and two touchdowns on 29 carries. For the record, that's an average of nearly 7.5 yards per carry.
Speaking of records, McCoy's 217-yard performance was a new franchise best. The previous record was set by Steve Van Buren in 1949.
Unfortunately for Detroit, McCoy outshined Jeremy Ross, who had 58-yard punt and 98-yard kick returns for scores. Ross finished with 243 yards on returns alone.
Since we are speaking of records, it is worth noting that McCoy was not the only record-setter on Sunday.
Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger set a new franchise record for career passing touchdowns against the Miami Dolphins, surpassing the mark set by Terry Bradshaw (Bradshaw had 212; Big Ben now has 215).
Broncos kicker Matt Prater set a record of his own in Denver. His successful 64-yard field goal set a new league record for length. It was a yard longer than the previous record held by Tom Dempsey, Jason Elam, Sebastian Janikowski and David Akers.
Cleveland Browns wideout Josh Gordon set a new franchise mark for receiving yards in a single season. His 151 yards against the Patriots moved him to a crisp 1,400.
Remarkably, Gordon has achieved the feat in just 11 games. He missed the first two for violating the league's substance-abuse policy.
Josh Gordon Is Incredible
The Cleveland Browns have lost four straight, but they have been worth watching because of Gordon.
Despite an unsettled quarterback position, featuring starts by Brandon Weeden, Jason Campbell and Brian Hoyer, Gordon has managed to set a number of records over the past month.
In addition to earning the franchise single-season receiving mark, he has also twice set the franchise record for receiving yards in a game.
Those games came in Weeks 12 and 13, which made Gordon the first player in league history to produce a 200-yard outing in consecutive weeks. His two-game total of 498 yards was also a record.
After playing the Patriots, Gordon has amassed 745 yards over the past four games, breaking Calvin Johnson's four-game mark.
Another Tom Brady Comeback
Despite Josh Gordon's best efforts, the Browns couldn't find a way to hold off the Patriots.
The Browns held a 6-0 halftime lead, led 19-11 entering the fourth and 26-14 with just over one minute remaining.
For New England quarterback Tom Brady and Co., it was just another day at the office.
"That was awesome," Brady told the Associated Press (via ESPN), "pretty sweet."
However, it took more than Brady's magic to seal the win.
The Browns drove to the New England 40-yard line with just 31 seconds remaining and no timeouts. However, Billy Cundiff's 58-yard field-goal attempt fell short, and New England walked away with the unbelievable victory.
Steelers Struggle with Sidelines
Browns vs. Patriots was hardly the only contest to feature a wild finish.
Though the Steelers managed to take the lead at the start of the fourth quarter, they found themselves down by six points with just 1:08 left to play.
That was because quarterback Ben Roethlisberger came up short on a 4th-and-10 scramble from the Pittsburgh 20-yard line, which gave Miami an easy field-goal opportunity.
Pittsburgh went for the customary desperation "toss-back" play from its own 26-yard line with six seconds remaining.
It nearly worked.
Amazingly, Brown managed to race past the entire Miami defense and into the end zone, which would have tied the game with an extra-point try to go.
Unfortunately, Brown was ruled out of bounds prior to reaching the goal line, and Miami walked away with a victory and its playoff hopes alive.
A Fourth-Quarter Frenzy in Baltimore
While the Dolphins were surviving one miraculous last-second play, the Ravens were busy pulling off one of their own.
With just 10 seconds remaining and down by four, Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco found rookie Marlon Brown for a nine-yard touchdown strike. The play spent some time under review before finally being upheld.
As wild as the finish was, it was just par for the course for the fourth quarter in this game.
The final 15 minutes of the contest featured an incredible six touchdowns and six lead changes before Ravens kicker Justin Tucker put the final nail in the coffin.
Flacco and Vikings quarterback Matt Cassel each tossed two touchdowns in the fourth.
Minnesota running back Toby Gerhart ran for a 41-yard touchdown, while Baltimore's Jacoby Jones returned a kickoff 77 yards for an incredible score of his own.
Just a Touch of Controversy
Sunday featured two questionable calls that stood out. One may have helped decide an exciting finish. The other was barely consequential but confusing all the same.
Against the Indianapolis Colts, Bengals running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis appeared to have been stopped just short of the goal line. He was, according to replay, hit by a defender and downed before scoring.
The infamous Jeff Triplette disagreed, however, which is a decision that has already drawn major criticism from former officials and media pundits alike.
Sports Illustrated's Peter King tweeted Sunday, "The overturn by Triplette in Cincinnati: disgraceful. Indefensible."
In the Browns and Patriots contest, a game with serious playoff implications, it was a questionable call that helped decide the game.
With less than a minute remaining, Browns cornerback Leon McFadden was flagged on a very questionable pass interference call. That set the Patriots up with a 1st-and-goal opportunity and an eventual win.
The play can be seen here.