Hail Mary: Panthers still strong, Lions and Chiefs stumble

Week 12 of the 2013 season threw together some interesting matches, with most of the teams still harbouring playoff ambitions due to league parity and some very inconsistent play. There was the now standard fare of a weekly shootout, as well as the low scoring defensive minded battle. Here is a quick rundown of the early Sunday games.

Jets @ Ravens

Baltimore is still very much alive after this 19-3 win over the New York Jets. It was a slow game that was a field goal fest until Joe Flacco’s 66 yard touchdown pass to Jacoby Jones. Before that kicker Justin Tucker had booted four field goals to put the Ravens ahead 12-3 against the lacklustre Jets. Once again Geno Smith was found wanting, completing just 9 of 22 passes. Both teams are now 5-6 but you sense the Ravens are the team more in the ascendency.

Steelers @ Browns

The Pittsburgh Steelers have now completed recovered from their bout with amnesia. By that I mean they have remembered how to play their brand of football and more importantly how to win. After their slow start to the year they are now 5-6 and very much in contention for a playoff spot. Largely down to Ben Roethlisberger’s resurgence, another near faultless display against Cleveland helped earn his team a 27-11 win. “Big Ben” passed for 217 yards and two touchdowns. It could have been a different story had Browns QB Jason Campbell not been forced out of the game following a big hit by William Gay in the third quarter.

Buccaneers @ Lions

Just a couple of short weeks ago the Detroit Lions were hot, now they’re not. Still the big play threat looms and Matthew Stafford did indeed throw three touchdowns, but his four interceptions, the last of which sealed the 24-21 win for Tampa Bay, were the Lions undoing. The Buccs have now won three straight after opening the year with eight defeats, a real case of what might have been. Rookie QB Mike Glennon was again very steady and his 85 yard scoring pass to Tiquan Underwood in the fourth period, proved to be the game winner.

Vikings @ Packers

Green Bay had to dig deep to avoid another defeat, coming back from 16 points down, to take the game into overtime. The two teams could only manage a field goal apiece in the extra period and therefore the game ended in the season’s first tied game at 26-26. Matt Flynn was successful on his return to the Packers, his 21 of 36 for 218 yards were very much the reason why the Packers are still in the NFC North hunt. Once again for Minnesota it was a case of close but no cigar.

Jaguars @ Texans

As bad as Jacksonville are, and have been for the majority of the season, they are no longer the worst team in football. At least for now. That distinction now belongs to Houston after the Jaguars came away from Texas with a 13-6 win. Maurice Jones-Drew was the only player on the day to come out with any kind of recognition as he ran for a season high 84 yards. This was the Texans ninth consecutive loss, a new franchise record.

Chargers @ Chiefs

It was always going to be interesting to see how Kansas City reacted to their first loss of the year, and they were thrown the test that is San Diego. Philip Rivers threw the game winning touchdown to Seyi Ajiritutu with just 24 seconds left. Rivers ended the day with 392 yards passing off his 27 completions and three touchdowns, including that game decider from 26 yards. It was the eighth lead change in the 41-38 shootout, and drops the Chiefs to 9-2 before their rematch with Denver next week. Jamal Charles had his usual productive game on the ground going for 115 yards, averaging 8.2 yards a carry, with two touchdowns.

Panthers @ Dolphins

For a long time during this game it seemed as though Miami would be able to pull off the shock of the day, but you can’t keep this good Carolina team down. Cam Newton’s new found energy and confidence come through again as he led his team nearly the whole length of the field. After converting a fourth down to keep the drive going at his own 20, the Panthers never looked back and Greg Olsen had the final say with his 1 yard catch for the go ahead, 20-16, score. Miami slips to 5-66 but still in the AFC Wild Card hunt.

Bears @ Rams

This was always going to be a tricky trip for Chicago, and they fell behind very early thanks to a trick play and a turnover. St.Louis was never to relinquish that early 14-0 lead and in fact built on it to end up with a 42-21 win. Despite the Bears problems they are the NFC North leaders at 6-5. Benny Cunningham ran all over the Bears, and ended up with 109 yards off just 13 carries. A big passing day for Josh McCown 36 of 47 for 32 yards and two touchdowns wasn’t enough to help the Bears, as the Rams picked up where they left off before the bye week when they beat the Colts by 30.

As a bonus here is the moment Jimmy Graham stopped play last Thursday night.

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