Posted by Darin Gantt on December 8, 2013, 9:54 PM EST
The league’s top-ranked defense is getting picked apart, and they don’t have long to catch their breath.
The Saints have raced to a 21-6 halftime lead on the Panthers, with Drew Brees at his surgical best.
The Saints have thrown for 183 yards and three touchdowns at halftime, after he was held to 147 yards last week against the Seahawks.
The difference is the Seahawks were able to get some pressure on Brees, and had personnel in the secondary to cover and make Brees make some choices.
The Panthers aren’t getting there with their front four tonight, and Brees is making them pay. He also gets the ball to start the second half, which could allow him to put this one out of reach quickly.
Posted by Michael David Smith on December 8, 2013, 9:28 PM EST
No division leader is playing any worse right now than the Indianapolis Colts. But no team in the NFL has clinched its division, except the Colts.
With the Titans’ loss to the Broncos today, the Colts clinched the AFC South, becoming the first team in the NFL to clinch a division title. (The Seahawks and Broncos have also clinched playoff berths, though not division titles.)
But in the process of clinching the division, the Colts aren’t looking good. Today they got whipped by the Bengals, 42-28, and they’ve lost three of their last five.
Although the Colts were playing excellent football early this season, with wins over the 49ers, Seahawks and Broncos, they’ve been plagued by injuries and have declined significantly. Still, they’re assured of playing at least one home playoff game. No other team in the NFL can say that.
Posted by Mike Wilkening on December 8, 2013, 8:58 PM EST
With three sacks in Sunday’s win against the Rams, Cardinals outside linebacker John Abraham has passed Hall of Fame outside linebacker Lawrence Taylor and long-time star defensive end Leslie O’Neal for ninth place on the NFL’s all-time sack list, according to data from the Cardinals.
Abraham now has 133 career NFL sacks, a half-sack more than Taylor and O’Neal (132.5). Abraham now needs five sacks to move past John Randle and Richard Dent (137.5 career sacks apiece) to take over seventh place on the all-time list.
The 35-year-old Abraham has 11 sacks on the season for the Cardinals, with whom he signed in the offseason. He has recorded 10 sacks or more in eight different seasons (2001, 2002, 2005, 2007, 2008, 2010, 2012, 2013) for three different teams (Jets, Falcons, Cards).
Posted by Josh Alper on December 8, 2013, 8:03 PM EST
The Cardinals got a win over the Rams on Sunday, but it looks like their promising rookie safety has seen his season come to a premature end.
Cardinals coach Bruce Arians said after the team’s 30-10 victory that safety Tyrann Mathieu “appears” to have torn the ACL in his left knee during the game. It’s a bad blow for a team still trying to fight their way into a Wild Card spot, an effort that suffered another blow on Sunday when the 49ers beat the Seahawks.
Mathieu was injured while returning a free kick that followed a Cardinals safety in the third quarter of the game. Mathieu tried to leave the field under his own power, but he wasn’t able to make it to the sideline and wound up needing a cart to help him to the back.
He’ll presumably have an MRI on Monday so doctors can confirm their suspicions, but Mathieu isn’t waiting to start coping with the bad news. Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic reports that one of the other Cardinals said Mathieu was bawling in the locker room after getting the initial diagnosis from doctors.
Posted by Mike Florio on December 8, 2013, 8:03 PM EST
With the NFL’s officiating function under siege, a key change could be looming.
Per a league source with knowledge of the situation, the Competition Committee’s annual offseason discussions regarding officiating have in recent years included a conversation about removing the instant replay function from the game site and transferring it to a central location — presumably to the league office in New York City.
That possibility is expected to be on the offseason agenda once again.
Peter King of TheMMQB.com explained during Football Night in America that, apart from a desire to avoid the kind of head-scratching decision made by referee Jeff Triplette in Cincinnati on Sunday, the move would help trim the total time of NFL games.
We made that case back in January of 2012. Plenty of time currently is wasted with the dog-and-pony show that currently unfolds on the playing field, with the referee trotting to the sideline, donning the Dukakis-in-the-tank headset, talking to the guys upstairs before the replays are shown, getting under the hood to watch the various replays, emerging from the mobile booth to have more discussions, determining the precise ball placement if necessary, informing one or both coaches about the decision, trotting back to the field, and explaining the outcome to the rest of the world.
The mistake made Sunday by Triplette, who overturned a call on the field of no touchdown without indisputable visual evidence, resulted in a five-minute, 13-second gap between the end of the play to the announcement from Triplette.
With the average length of games currently at three hours and eight minutes for 2013 (according to King), centralizing replay would streamline it.
Besides, if the referees are going to continue to apply the wrong standard to the replay function, substituting their own judgment for the question of whether indisputable visual evidence exists to overturn the ruling on the field, the referees have no business juggling that role with everything else they do during a game. It’s far better to export the function to the league office, like the NHL already does.
Posted by Mike Wilkening on December 8, 2013, 7:53 PM EST
Led by impressive passing from Carson Palmer and another strong outing from their stout defense, the Cardinals defeated the visiting Rams 30-10 on Sunday in Arizona.
However, in victory, the Cardinals lost key rookie safety Tyrann Mathieu to a left knee injury suffered on the return of a third-quarter free kick. Mathieu was carted off the field as he tried to run onto the sideline after being tackled on the return, which occurred as Arizona got the ball back after a safety.
Palmer completed 27-of-32 passes for 269 yards and one TD for the Cardinals, who improved their record to 8-5. They are one game behind San Francisco (9-4) for the final NFC wild-card spot.
Palmer’s top target Sunday was wideout Larry Fitzgerald, who hauled in 12 passes for 96 yards, including a seven-yard second-quarter TD.
The Cardinals’ defense helped break the game open in the first five minutes of the third quarter.
First, linebacker Karlos Dansby intercepted Rams quarterback Kellen Clemens and scored a 24-yard touchdown 18 seconds into the third quarter. Then, on the Rams’ third drive of the quarter, Cardinals outside linebacker John Abraham sacked Clemens in the endzone for a safety, extending Arizona’s lead to 23-3 with 9:10 left in the third.
The Rams would cut the lead to 23-10 with 14:57 left in regulation on a one-yard TD run by Zac Stacy. However, St. Louis (5-8) would get no closer.
Rams rookie wide receiver Tavon Austin appeared to suffer an injury upon being tackled at the end of a 56-yard run that set up Stacy’s touchdown. While Austin would return to the game, the Rams would later rule him out for the rest of the contest.
Clemens completed 16-of-27 passes for 181 yards for the Rams. He was intercepted twice. The Cardinals outgained St. Louis 369-257, converted 8-of-14 third downs and held the ball for a little more than 35 minutes.
Posted by Josh Alper on December 8, 2013, 7:34 PM EST
Eli Manning claims not to remember why he and his family didn’t want him to play for the Chargers when he entered the NFL and he might not be able to remember Sunday’s 37-14 loss to the team he once spurned either.
After all, the blowout losses have to be running together a little bit at this point. Was it against San Diego or Denver when the Giants defense impersonated a sieve? Did the Chiefs, Chargers or Panthers defense cause the Giants offense to flail around aimlessly? They’ll be plenty of time to figure it out since the Giants have no officially been eliminated from playoff contention.
Manning was 20-of-32 for 259 yards on Sunday and threw his 19th and 20th interceptions on the year. That’s more than anyone but Geno Smith, who has also thrown 20 on the year. That’s likely another piece of information that Manning would like to erase from his memory but, much like the way things played out in San Diego, too many people are aware of what happened for it to disappear completely.
Philip Rivers has no need to live out Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, however. He was 21-of-28 for 249 yards and three touchdowns to continue a strong 2013 season that has quieted the worries he generated with his play in the 2012 season. At 6-7, it may be too late for the Chargers to make a real playoff push but they’ll remain alive for at least one more week and can head toward next season with the knowledge that their quarterback can still get the job done.
Posted by Michael David Smith on December 8, 2013, 7:32 PM EST
For the last week, the entire NFL world has hailed the Seattle Seahawks as the best team in football. Today the San Francisco 49ers reminded everyone that there’s still a whole lot of football to play.
In a tough, physical battle between these two NFC West rivals, the 49ers won 19-17 and made a big statement that they’re still Super Bowl contenders, even if the Seahawks remain atop the division.
San Francisco running back Frank Gore had a big day that was topped with a 51-yard run late in the fourth quarter, which helped set up the game-winning field goal in the final minute. That field goal made Phil Dawson a perfect 4-for-4 on the day.
The 49ers’ defense did a good job of keeping Marshawn Lynch in check, and although Russell Wilson was efficient and effective with his passing, the 49ers were able to contain him for the most part, and he didn’t make many big plays. If the 49ers’ defense can hold Seattle’s offense to 17 points, they’ll take that every time.
The Seahawks are still the favorites to win the division and earn home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs, but the 49ers, who will likely be an NFC wild card team, have at least made the case that they’re a team to be reckoned with in the postseason.
Still, the good news for the Seahawks is that if these teams meet a third time, it will be in Seattle.
Posted by Mike Florio on December 8, 2013, 7:32 PM EST
During Sunday’s game between the Seahawks and the 49ers included a moment when running back Marshawn Lynch became separate from his helmet. So he grabbed a helmet from a teammate, put it on, and kept playing.
In any other year, it would be an intriguing anecdote. In this year, with the NFL requiring teams to use one helmet all year, it raised eyebrows.
According to the league office, it’s not a problem.
“The new policy was put into place in an effort to minimize helmet changes for hundreds of players during the course of the season,” league spokesman Brian McCarthy told PFT. “The policy prevents an entire team from having to change back and forth between helmets.”
The new rule has prompted multiple teams to ditch throwback uniforms (as the Buccaneers and Cowboys did) or to modify their throwbacks (as the Packers did) to use their regular helmets.
Posted by Darin Gantt on December 8, 2013, 7:22 PM EST
Not only was it cold, but the Broncos were also shorthanded.
But quarterback Peyton Manning is operating at such a high level right now, it doesn’t appear there’s much that can slow him down.
With temperatures in the teens and wide receiver Wes Welker leaving the game in the second quarter with a concussion, the Broncos didn’t miss a beat, beating the Titans 51-28. That moves them to 11-2, a game ahead of the Patriots for the top spot in the AFC playoff chase.
Manning’s 58 attempts were a career high, and he completed 38 of them for 390 yards and four touchdowns.
Throw in kicker Matt Prater kicking a league-record 64-yard field goal, and the offense was practically perfect.
The concussion for Welker is his second this month, which will bring his status for Thursday’s game against the Chargers into question. Welker took a hard shot from Titans safety George Wilson just before halftime, and didn’t return.
The Titans actually held the lead at halftime, but their physical style faded in the second half, which was primarily because of Manning. At 5-8, their chances are effectively over.
Posted by Mike Wilkening on December 8, 2013, 7:09 PM EST
Unlike the Patriots or the Ravens, the Bengals didn’t need to make a great escape to secure victory on Sunday.
Instead, Cincinnati led throughout in a 42-28 victory against AFC South-leading Indianapolis on Sunday at Paul Brown Stadium.
This was a triumph for the Bengals’ offense, which racked up 430 yards and six touchdowns — three rushing, three passing — in an impressive performance.
With the win, the Bengals (9-4) kept a two-game lead over Baltimore (7-6) in the AFC North.
The Colts (8-5) got a big game from quarterback Andrew Luck, who threw four second-half TD passes — two to rookie wide receiver Da’Rick Rogers and a pair to second-year wideout LaVon Brazill. However, the Colts again started slowly, scoring no first-half points.
Also, the Colts’ defense had a tough day. Like the Colts, the Bengals scored 28 second-half points.
In the win, Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton threw for 275 yards and three TDs with no interceptions. The Bengals also got two rushing TDs from BenJarvus Green-Ellis, including a controversial one-yard score near the end of the second quarter. At first, Green-Ellis was ruled to have been touched down short of the goal line on a fourth-down run, but the call was reversed, and the Bengals took a 14-0 lead into halftime.
Then, on the first drive of the second half, the Bengals marched 80 yards on nine plays, with Green-Ellis’ second touchdown giving Cincinnati a 21-0 edge. Though the Colts would cut the lead to 21-14 on Luck TD passes to Rogers (69 yards) and Brazill (19 yards), the Bengals would respond with two touchdowns of their own, with Dalton hitting tight end Jermaine Gresham for a one-yard score and wideout A.J. Green for a nine-yard tally.
It was that sort of day for the Bengals, who always had an answer for the Colts.
Posted by Josh Alper on December 8, 2013, 7:01 PM EST
The Browns held Tom Brady and the Patriots in check for most of Sunday’s game, but Brady was able to cash in on a couple of opportunities late in the game to lift the team to a 27-26 victory.
One of those opportunities came about because of a pass interference call in the end zone with less than a minute to play. Browns defensive back Leon McFadden was flagged for interfering with Patriots wide receiver Josh Boyce, a call that didn’t have a lot of evidence to support it when watching on several replays after the fact. Browns coach Rob Chudzinski said he was “sick about the outcome of the game” and made it clear he disagreed with the officials on that play.
“I did not. I felt like those two were both jostling for the ball and obviously, the penalty was called,” Chudzinski said in his postgame press conference. “So, at the end of the day it doesn’t really matter what I think.”
There was plenty of other disagreement with that call in the Browns locker room and there was also displeasure with a call on cornerback Jordan Poyer for hitting a defenseless receiver just before the fateful flag on McFadden. As Chudzinski said, though, it doesn’t much matter what the Browns think since there’s no way to take those final 13 Patriots points off the board.
Posted by Mike Wilkening on December 8, 2013, 6:37 PM EST
Cardinals rookie safety Tyrann Mathieu was removed from the field on a cart after suffering a left knee injury in the third quarter of Sunday’s game against St. Louis.
Mathieu was hurt on a free kick after a Cardinals safety. After he was tackled on the play, Mathieu tried to run off the field and onto the Cardinals’ sideline, but he fell down before making it out of bounds.
Mathieu, who was attended to by the team’s medical staff, was able to sit up before being taken off the field on the cart.
The Cardinals have ruled out Mathieu for the rest of the game.
The 21-yard-old Mathieu has been a key contributor on the Cardinals’ defense this season, and he has shown the playmaking flair that marked his collegiate career at LSU.
The Cardinals hold a 23-3 lead late in the third quarter against the visiting Rams.