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NFL 2011 Season – Week 15 Recap

Aaron Rodgers
Jamie Squire, Getty Images

It was a great weekend for road teams in the NFL, as many came out victorious. Green Bay lost its perfect season, and Indianapolis finally recorded a victory in 2011, while three more AFC teams gained playoff spots. Here’s a recap of all the weekend’s games:

Sunday, Dec. 18

Kansas City 19 – Green Bay 14

Kyle Orton threw for 299 yards, and the Kansas City Chiefs beat the Green Bay Packers 19-14 to give the defending Super Bowl champions their first loss of the season. Playing under interim coach Romeo Crennel, Kansas City (6-8) led most of the game and went ahead 19-7 on Jackie Battle’s 1-yard scoring plunge with 4:53 remaining. Green Bay (13-1) pulled within five points when quarterback Aaron Rodgers scampered eight yards into the end zone with 2:04 to play. The Packers could not recover the ensuing onside kick, and the Chiefs picked up a few first downs to run out the clock.

Green Bay’s Rodgers passed for just 235 yards and a 2-yard touchdown to Donald Driver. Jermichael Finley caught three passes for 83 yards for the Packers. Ryan Grant carried 12 times for 66 yards for Green Bay. Ryan Succop kicked four field goals for Kansas City, which was led in receiving by Leonard Pope’s 72 yards on two receptions. Thomas Jones chipped in 48 rushing yards for the Chiefs.

Indianapolis 27 – Tennessee 13

Donald Brown ran for 161 yards, including an 80-yard touchdown, and the Indianapolis Colts beat the Tennessee Titans 27-13 to win their first game of the 2011 season. The Titans’ loss also guaranteed the Pittsburgh Steelers a playoff berth. Trailing 6-3 at halftime, Indianapolis (1-13) scored on its first possession of the second half when quarterback Dan Orlvosky threw an 18-yard touchdown pass to Reggie Wayne. Cornerback Jacob Lacey followed with a 32-yard interception return for a score off a Matt Hasselbeck pass on the next series.

Tennessee (7-7) attempted to rally behind Jake Locker, who threw a 7-yard touchdown pass to Nate Washington with 3:43 left, but Brown’s big run on the next offensive series all but sealed the win for Indianapolis. Jared Cook caught nine passes for 103 yards for the Titans, who saw star running back Chris Johnson held to 55 yards on 15 carries. Hasselbeck passed for 223 yards and two interceptions before being pulled for Locker.

New England 41 – Denver 23

Tom Brady passed for 320 yards and two touchdowns and ran for another score, and the New England Patriots beat the Denver Broncos 41-23 to clinch the AFC East title and a playoff berth. New England (11-3) won its sixth straight game and kept Tim Tebow from rallying the Broncos. Denver (8-6) jumped out to a 16-7 lead early in the second quarter, but New England responded by scoring the next 27 points of the game.

Aaron Hernandez caught nine passes for 129 yards and a touchdown for the Patriots, who were led in rushing by Stevan Ridley’s 65 yards on 11 carries. Tebow finished with 194 passing yards, and he carried 12 times for 93 yards and two scores for the Broncos. Demaryius Thomas caught seven passes for 116 yards for Denver.

Detroit 28 – Oakland 27

Matthew Stafford capped a 98-yard drive with a go-ahead, 6-yard touchdown pass to Calvin Johnson, and the Detroit Lions beat the Oakland Raiders 28-27 by scoring 14 points in the final 5 minutes of the game. Detroit (9-5) defensive lineman Ndamukong Suh blocked a 65-yard field goal attempt by Raiders’ kicker Sebastian Janikowski on the game’s final play to assure the victory. Oakland (7-7) was unable to close out the win despite leading 27-14 after linebacker Aaron Curry returned a Stafford fumble 6 yards for a touchdown with 7:47 left in the fourth quarter.

Stafford passed for 391 yards and four touchdowns for Detroit. Johnson caught nine passes for 214 yards and two touchdowns for the Lions, including a 51-yarder from Stafford in the first quarter. Nate Burleson had 81 yards on seven receptions, including a 39-yard score. Carson Palmer completed 32 of 40 passes for 367 yards and a touchdown for the Raiders. Oakland receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey had eight catches for 155 yards. Michael Bush had 77 yards on 18 carries and added another 62 yards on seven receptions for the Raiders.

Washington 23 – N. Y. Giants 10

Rex Grossman threw a touchdown pass and Graham Gano kicked four field goals, and the Washington Redskins beat the New York Giants 23-10. Washington (5-9) surged to a 17-3 halftime lead as the Redskins dominated the line of scrimmage. New York (7-7) did not get across the goal line until Ahmad Bradshaw’s meaningless 3-yard touchdown run with 33 seconds to play. The Redskins finished the game with a 35:00 to 25:00 advantage in time of possession.

Grossman completed 15 of 24 passes for 185 yards, two interceptions and a 20-yard touchdown toss to Santana Moss in the second quarter. Jabar Gaffney caught six passes for 85 yards for the Redskins, while Roy Helu led Washington with 53 yards rushing. Giants’ quarterback Eli Manning passed for 257 yards, but threw three costly interceptions. New York receiver Hakeem Nicks caught five passes for 73 yards, but also dropped a potential touchdown pass early in the game. Bradshaw finished with 58 yards on 10 carries.

Philadelphia 45 – N.Y. Jets 19

LeSean McCoy ran for 102 yards and three touchdowns, and the Philadelphia Eagles routed the New York Jets 45-19. Philadelphia (6-8) kept its slim playoff hopes alive by taking advantage of three Jets’ turnovers while sprinting to a 28-0 second quarter lead. New York (8-6) rallied within 28-13 at the half, but the Eagles pulled away with 10 third-quarter points.

Michael Vick passed for 274 yards and a touchdown and ran for another score for Philadelphia. Brent Celek caught five passes for 156 yards and a score for the Eagles. Shonn Greene led the Jets with 73 rushing yards. New York quarterback Mark Sanchez struggled while passing for 150 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions. He also fumbled. Santonio Holmes caught four passes for 40 yards and a score, but his first quarter fumble was returned 47 yards for a touchdown by Juqua Parker.

San Diego 34 – Baltimore 14

Ryan Mathews ran for two touchdowns, and the San Diego Chargers beat the Baltimore Ravens 34-14 on Sunday night. San Diego (7-7) had a 17-7 halftime lead and was never seriously threatened in the game. Despite the loss, Baltimore (10-4) clinched a playoff spot when the Jets, Titans and Raiders all lost on Sunday.

Mathews ran for 90 yards and the two scores for San Diego. Chargers’ quarterback Philip Rivers completed 17 of 23 passes for 270 yards and a 28-yard touchdown to Malcom Floyd, who had five receptions for 96 yards. Joe Flacco passed for 226 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions for the Ravens. Ray Rice added 57 yards rushing on 10 carries for Baltimore, while he also caught nine passes for 55 yards. Torrey Smith added six catches for 77 yards and a score for Baltimore.

Carolina 28 – Houston 13

Cam Newton threw two touchdown passes and DeAngelo Williams ran for a score, as the Carolina Panthers beat the Houston Texans 28-13. Carolina (5-9) built a 21-0 halftime lead and then hung on for the victory. Houston (10-4) didn’t get into the end zone until Arian Foster’s 1-yard touchdown run with 13:48 to play pulled them within 21-13. Texans’ quarterback T.J. Yates passed for 212 yards, but the second of his two interceptions sealed Houston’s fate.

Newton completed 13 of 23 passes for 149 yards against the league’s top-ranked defense, which was playing without coordinator Wade Phillips, who was undergoing kidney and gall bladder surgery. Williams had 61 rushing yards for the Panthers. Steve Smith caught five passes for 82 yards and a score for Carolina. Foster finished with 109 yards on 16 carries, and he added 58 receiving yards on five receptions for Houston.

Seattle 38 – Chicago 14

Red Bryant’s 20-yard interception return for a touchdown broke a second-half tie, and the Seattle Seahawks beat the Chicago Bears 38-14. Seattle (7-7) went ahead 21-14 after the return and piled on another 17 points, including an additional interception return for a score by Brandon Browner. Chicago (7-7) lost its fourth straight game, as quarterback Caleb Hanie struggled, throwing for just 111 yards, one touchdown and three interceptions.

Tarvaris Jackson passed for 227 yards, one touchdown and an interception for the Seahawks. Marshawn Lynch added 42 rushing yards and two touchdowns for Seattle, which had Golden Tate catch four passes for 61 yards. Kahlil Bell paced the Bears with 65 yards on 15 carries. He added five receptions for 43 yards and a touchdown. Chicago played most of the game without receiver Johnny Knox, who was carted off the field after he was injured in a first-quarter collision.

Arizona 20 – Cleveland 17 (OT)

Jay Feely kicked a 22-yard field goal in overtime, and the Arizona Cardinals beat the Cleveland Browns 20-17. The win was the third overtime victory in seven games for Arizona (7-7). The Cardinals’ Patrick Peterson returned a punt 32 yards to help set up Feely’s kick. Cleveland (4-10) led 17-7 heading into the fourth quarter, but could not hold off the Arizona rally. Both teams played without their starting quarterbacks: John Skelton subbed for the Cardinals’ Kevin Kolb and Seneca Wallace played in place of Colt McCoy for the Browns.

Skelton completed 28 of 36 passes for 313 yards, a touchdown and interception for Arizona. Todd Heap caught seven passes for 60 yards for the Cardinals, while Beanie Wells chipped in with 51 rushing yards and a score. Browns’ quarterback Wallace threw for 226 yards and a 76-yard touchdown to Greg Little, who caught five passes for 131 yards. Peyton Hillis led Cleveland with 99 yards and a touchdown on 26 carries.

Cincinnati 20 – St. Louis 13

A.J. Green caught six passes for 115 yards, and the Cincinnati Bengals beat the St. Louis Rams 20-13. Cincinnati (8-6) pulled ahead 13-6 late in the third quarter on a 1-yard touchdown run by Bernard Scott, and it extended the lead to 20-6 on a Cedric Benson score in the final period. St. Louis (2-12) finally got into the end zone when Kellen Clemens threw a 25-yard touchdown pass to Danario Alexander with 1:08 to play.

Benson led the Bengals with 76 yards rushing, including a touchdown. Cincinnati quarterback Andy Dalton threw for 179 yards with an interception. Clemens completed 25 of 36 passes for 229 yards and the score, while filling in for injured Rams’ QB Sam Bradford. Steven Jackson led St. Louis with 71 yards on 18 carries, and he caught nine passes for 72 yards.

New Orleans 42 – Minnesota 20

Drew Brees threw for 412 yards and five touchdowns, and the New Orleans Saints romped over the Minnesota Vikings 42-20. New Orleans (11-3) led just 14-13 with 2 minutes to play in the first half, but they scored the game’s next 28 points while winning their fifth game in a row. Minnesota (2-12) managed just 207 total yards of offense on the game.

Lance Moore had five receptions for 91 yards and two touchdowns for the Saints, while Marques Colston added eight catches for 91 yards. New Orleans’ running back Christopher Ivory ran for 74 yards on 18 carries. Adrian Peterson carried 10 times for 60 yards in his return from an ankle injury for the Vikings. Minnesota’s Toby Gerhart caught four passes for 46 yards and two touchdowns from quarterback Christian Ponder, who also threw an interception during the game.

Miami 30 – Buffalo 23

Reggie Bush ran for a career-high 203 yards, including a 76-yard touchdown run, and the Miami Dolphins beat the Buffalo Bills 30-23. Miami (5-9) got its first win under Todd Bowles, who was named interim head coach earlier this week. Buffalo (5-9) lost its seventh straight game.

Matt Moore overcame a concussion he suffered last week to throw for 217 yards and two touchdowns for the Dolphins. Brandon Marshall had three receptions for 84 yards, including a 65-yard touchdown from Moore that he caught in stride. Bills’ quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick passed for 318 yards and two touchdowns, but he also had three interceptions. Buffalo running back C.J. Spiller carried 12 times for 91 yards and a score, while he also caught 10 passes for 73 yards and another touchdown.

Saturday, Dec. 17

Dallas 31 – Tampa Bay 15

Tony Romo threw three first-half touchdown passes, and the Dallas Cowboys beat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 31-15 on Saturday night. Dallas (8-6) led 28-0 at halftime, as Romo threw 8-yard scoring passes to Miles Austin and Dez Bryant in the first quarter and a 9-yard touchdown to Laurent Robinson in the second. Romo used a quarterback sneak 20 seconds before the half ended to account for the Cowboys’ last touchdown of the game. Tampa Bay (4-10) got third-quarter touchdowns on Dekoda Watson’s 7-yard return off a Romo fumble and a 13-yard scoring pass from Josh Freeman to Dezmon Briscoe, but it was unable to complete the rally.

Romo finished with 249 passing yards and the three TDs for the Cowboys. Dallas’ running back Felix Jones ran for 108 yards, while tight end Jason Witten had four catches for 77 yards. The large deficit kept the Buccaneers from using running back LeGarrette Blount, who finished with just 21 yards on nine carries. Freeman passed for 148 yards. He was sacked three times.

Thursday, Dec. 15

Atlanta 41 – Jacksonville 14

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