By Ryan of The Sportmeisters
A last second touchdown, a clinched division, and more sum up this week in the NFL. Let’s revisit some of the bigger stories.
A Championship Comeback, Part Two
Two weeks ago, the Indianapolis Colts turned a 31-14 deficit into a 35-34 victory against the New England Patriots. Surely, against the Houston Texans, they would find an easier road. Instead, the Colts decided to spot the Texans 17 points and then proceeded to run off 28 unanswered points in the second half to win 35-27.
Some historical data here: Indianapolis has now won 20 straight regular season games (second most in NFL history) and became the first team to win 11 games seven years in a row.
On the other side, Houston is now 1-15 against Indianapolis since forming in 2002, and this could be the final straw for coach Gary Kubiak.
Indianapolis has shown some weakness, with this not being the first time they’ve fallen behind. However, good teams find a way to win, and as long as Peyton Manning is under center, the Colts are always in the running.
Who are the Tennessee Titans, and where did they come from? Once again, putting QB Vince Young back in the starting lineup was the right call, as he threw for a career-high 387 yards, including the game-winning 10-yard pass to WR Kenny Britt with no time left. This brought the Titans to 5-6, and their outside shot of a playoff spot still remains.
The game also saw a “rematch” of the 2006 National Championship between Young and Arizona Cardinals QB Matt Leinart. Leinart, starting in place of the injured Kurt Warner, managed the game very well, with 220 yards and no interceptions or touchdowns. In the end, however, Young won it on the last play again.
On a smaller scale, but important nonetheless, is RB Chris Johnson’s sixth straight game of over 125 rushing yards. This matched the record held by Earl Campbell and Eric Dickerson.
Tennessee faces the undefeated Colts next week in what should make for a very entertaining AFC South matchup.
A Battle in the North
When AFC North rivals the Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers face off, it is a hard-hitting, grind-it-out power game. Baltimore must have been salivating at this matchup, facing off against little-used third string QB Dennis Dixon with Ben Roethlisberger and Charlie Batch out with injuries.
Much like Pittsburgh has done before with young QBs, they relied on him to manage the game, using the run heavily and expecting the defense to make the stop. Everything was running smoothly until overtime, when little-used LB Paul Kruger jumped in front of a pass, giving Baltimore the ball. A few plays later, Billy Cundiff’s 29-yard field goal won the game for the Ravens.
Both Baltimore and Pittsburgh are 6-5, fighting for playoff survival. This win is huge for the Ravens, as it helps them in the tiebreakers for the AFC Wild Card.
Contenders and Pretenders
The playoffs are knocking—who is going to answer the door?
The San Diego Chargers are continuing their quest for the AFC West and got a boost with their 43-14 win over Kansas City. This was the sixth straight win for San Diego.
While some teams are perfect, others are perfectly inept.
I wouldn’t call the Atlanta Falcons a pretender just yet, but when you lose your starting QB and starting RB, you’re going to be tough to show yourself as a contender. They squeaked by Tampa Bay 20-17, but those miracles can only last so long.
Jake Delhomme and John Fox might be on the way out in Carolina, as Delhomme threw four more interceptions, this time against the New York Jets. The Panthers are 4-7 and falling fast.