Week 16 in the NFL didn't fail to excite fans around the nation.
Surprising results, huge fantasy performances and an amazing record-breaking performance highlighted the action.
Peyton Manning—with one game to spare—broke Tom Brady's single-season touchdown passes record, tossing four against the Houston Texans to make it 51 on the season:
RECORD-BREAKER. pic.twitter.com/RjDquSfCvb— Denver Broncos (@Broncos) December 22, 2013
Not only has he been pure gold as a fantasy football stud in 2013, but Manning's exploits also ensured the Denver Broncos would head into Week 17 as the AFC West leaders and the No. 1 seed in the AFC.
He wasn't the only big-time star to put up huge numbers in a winning cause during Week 16, either. Here's a look at all the results from the action on Sunday, Dec. 22, along with top fantasy scorers from each game.
NFL Week 16: Sunday's Results
|Buffalo Bills||Miami Dolphins||19-0|
|Carolina Panthers||New Orleans Saints||17-13|
|Cincinnati Bengals||Minnesota Vikings||42-14|
|Denver Broncos||Houston Texans||37-13|
|Tennessee Titans||Jacksonville Jaguars||20-16|
|Indianapolis Colts||Kansas City Chiefs||23-7|
|Dallas Cowboys||Washington Redskins||24-23|
|New York Jets||Cleveland Browns||24-13|
|St. Louis Rams||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||23-13|
|Arizona Cardinals||Seattle Seahawks||17-10|
|New York Giants||Detroit Lions||23-20 (OT)|
|New England Patriots||Baltimore Ravens||41-7|
|San Diego Chargers||Oakland Raiders||26-13|
|Pittsburgh Steelers||Green Bay Packers||38-31|
Carolina Seizes Control of the NFC South
Heading into Week 16, the Carolina Panthers trailed the New Orleans Saints in the hunt for the NFC South title. Both teams went into the game with 10-4 records, but New Orleans led by virtue of a home victory over the Panthers in Week 14.
The Saints completely dominated the action in the first meeting, but the tables were turned in Week 16 at Bank of America Stadium.
As we saw the first time these two teams met, Carolina's offense struggled to keep the chains moving. Cam Newton completed just 13 passes for 181 yards, the team totaled just 81 yards rushing with one touchdown and the offense generated just 10 first downs.
However, unlike the first meeting, Carolina's defense was stellar throughout the contest, hitting Drew Brees repeatedly:
Throughout today's game the Panthers defense just KEPT POUNDING Drew Brees and left BLACK and BLUE marks all over him! #BestDefenseInTheNFL— Car Panthers News (@CarPanthersNews) December 22, 2013
Brees was sacked six times, absorbed eight quarterback hits and threw two interceptions in a losing cause.
His counterpart, Newton, had a frustrating day as well, but he played his best with the game on the line.
Newton found Domenik Hixon on a 14-yard touchdown strike with 23 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter to put the Panthers up by four points after the extra point. It was his fourth game-winning drive in the fourth quarter or overtime this season, as ESPN Stats & Info points out, and it couldn't have come at a better time for Carolina:
Cam Newton: 4th game-winning drive in 4th quarter/OT this season (2 combined in 1st 2 seasons— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) December 22, 2013
The 11-4 Panthers will take a one-game lead into Week 17 over the 10-5 Saints. Carolina will be in Atlanta for the final game of the season, while New Orleans will host Tampa Bay.
Both teams should win their regular-season finales, meaning the Panthers will likely finish the season as the No. 2 seed in the NFC with a record of 12-4 while the Saints will likely slide to No. 6, provided the San Francisco 49ers win out and finish at 12-4.
NFL Week 16: Sunday's Top Fantasy Stars
|Dolphins at Bills||Bills Defense||DEF||BUF||19||Seven sacks, two INTs, zero points allowed|
|Saints at Panthers||Jimmy Graham||TE||NO||13||Five catches, 73 yards, one TD|
|Vikings at Bengals||Andy Dalton||QB||CIN||31||377 total yards, four TDs|
|Broncos at Texans||Peyton Manning||QB||DEN||32||400 total yards, four TDs|
|Titans at Jaguars||Nate Washington||WR||TEN||17||Six catches, 117 yards, one TD|
|Colts at Chiefs||Donald Brown||RB||IND||22||110 total yards, two TDs|
|Cowboys at Redskins||DeMarco Murray||RB||DAL||22||121 total yards, two TDs|
|Browns at Jets||Geno Smith||QB||NYJ||26||262 total yards, three TDs|
|Buccaneers at Rams||Rams Defense||DEF||STL||17||Seven sacks, two turnovers, 13 points allowed|
|Cardinals at Seahawks||Cardinals Defense||DEF||ARI||14||Four sacks, one INT, one forced fumble, 10 points allowed|
|Giants at Lions||Joique Bell||RB||DET||21||154 total yards, one TD|
|Patriots at Ravens||Patriots Defense||DEF||NE||26||Four sacks, three INTs, one forced fumble, two touchdowns scored, seven points allowed|
|Raiders at Chargers||Ryan Mathews||RB||OAK||17||119 total yards, one TD|
|Steelers at Packers||Eddie Lacy||RB||GB||20||90 total yards, two TDs|
Another Masterpiece by Peyton Manning
Manning has been spectacular all season long for both the Broncos and for fantasy owners around the world.
The legendary quarterback entered Week 16 with a huge, 48-point lead over Drew Brees for the top fantasy score of the season, and he had another stellar performance in Houston, leading the Broncos to a 37-13 victory to improve to 12-3 on the season.
Passing for 400 yards and four touchdowns, Manning earned 32 points for fantasy owners in Week 16 to lead all scorers in the early games on Sunday.
It was the eighth time in 2013 that Manning had thrown at least four touchdown passes, and it was the fifth time he cracked 30-plus fantasy points.
Even more importantly for Denver and Manning, the victory ensures the Broncos would finish as AFC West champs and earned the team a first-round bye, according to the team's official website.
Not surprisingly, Manning deflected praise after his achievement, per the Broncos on Twitter:
Manning called the record "a team record."— Denver Broncos (@Broncos) December 22, 2013
Peyton Manning on setting the @NFL single-season TD pass record: "I'm sure it's just a temporary record, but I will enjoy it."— Denver Broncos (@Broncos) December 22, 2013
He's a true professional—not to mention one of the greatest passers to every play the game. With one more game to add to his record of 51 touchdown passes, it's not likely Manning's mark will be overtaken any time soon.
Follow me on Twitter @JesseReed78