NFL Week 12: What we learned
Saints 17, Falcons 13
In Atlanta, Drew Brees threw for 278 yards, pushing his total to a league-best 3,647 on the season, but it was the defense that loomed large in the win. New Orleans sacked Matt Ryan five times, and Keyunta Dawson forced a crucial fourth quarter fumble that was recovered by Corey White. The win propelled the Saints to a 9-2 record; they hold a one-game lead in the NFC South.
Ravens 19, Jets 3
In Baltimore, the Ravens dominated the Jets after losing four of their last five. The defense mauled New York, forcing three turnovers and allowing just 220 yards. Super Bowl standout Jacoby Jones awoke from his disappointing season to haul in a 66-yard touchdown reception. At 5-6, the win kept Baltimore's wild-card hopes alive.
Steelers 27, Browns 11
In Cleveland, the Steelers won their third straight led by Ben Roethlisberger. Big Ben threw two touchdowns, including a 41-yard strike to Antonio Brown late in the first half. Jason Campbell sustained a head injury and did not return. Josh Gordon shined in the blowout loss, totaling 237 receiving yards on 14 catches.
Buccaneers 24, Lions 21
In Detroit, the Buccaneers secured their third straight victory when Matthew Stafford's late fourth quarter pass bounced off Calvin Johnson's hands and into the waiting arms of a defender. The interception was Stafford's fourth on the day, and ensured the Lions' second straight loss. They remain tied for first in the NFC North.
Vikings 26, Packers 26 (OT)
In Green Bay, the Packers came back from a 16-point fourth quarter deficit led by backup quarterback Matt Flynn. Flynn was inserted in the second half after Scott Tolzien proved ineffective. Flynn threw for 218 yards in the half and brought Green Bay to overtime where the teams traded field goals but could do nothing else in a rare tie.
Jaguars 13, Texans 6
In Houston, the Jaguars won their second game and handed the Texans their franchise-worst ninth straight loss. Oakland native Maurice Jones-Drew showed signs of life in his contract year, rushing for 84 yards and a touchdown on 14 carries in the victory.
Chargers 41, Chiefs 38
In Kansas City, Philip Rivers had a huge day, tallying 392 passing yards and three touchdowns as the Chargers shocked the Chiefs with an upset on the road. The teams battled back and forth, trading scores for the entire second half before Rivers hit Seyi Ajirotutu on a 26-yard score with 24 seconds remaining to give San Diego the lead and the win. Kansas City lost its second straight, and has lost its grip on the AFC West.
Panthers 20, Dolphins 16
In Miami, the Panthers rode Cam Newton's two second-half touchdowns to victory in the comeback win. Carolina trailed 16-6 at the half but held Miami scoreless in the second to improve to 8-3. The Dolphins fell to 5-6 but are still firmly in the wild-card mix.
Rams 42, Bears 21
In St. Louis, the Rams earned their second straight blowout win behind early and prolific offense. Tavon Austin continued to showcase his talent, ripping off a 65-yard run on the opening drive. The rushing touchdown was one of three for the Rams on the day. The Bears fell to 6-5 and remain tied atop the NFC North.
Cardinals 40, Colts 11
In Glendale, the Cardinals routed the Colts from the opening kickoff. Carson Palmer rose to the occasion, throwing for 314 yards and two touchdowns to Larry Fitzgerald, who surpassed 11,000 career receiving yards in the game. The Colts lost after more first half problems, but hold a two-game lead in the AFC South.
Titans 23, Raiders 19
In Oakland, the Titans won on Ryan Fitzpatrick's last-second touchdown pass to Kendall Wright. Fitzpatrick had an impressive outing, throwing for 320 yards and two touchdowns while being under duress all game. Sebastian Janikowski missed two costly field goals in the contest, one in each half. The win put Tennessee in the sixth and final playoff position.
Cowboys 24, Giants 21
In East Rutherford, the Cowboys pulled out a tightly contested victory on Dan Bailey's 35-yard field goal as time expired. Jason Witten caught two touchdowns, bringing his season total to four. Dallas improved to 6-5 and is tied atop the NFC East.
Patriots 34, Broncos 31
In Foxborough, the Patriots rode Tom Brady's 344 passing yards and three touchdowns to a shocking comeback victory. New England trailed 24-0 at halftime, but came roaring back with the help of halftime adjustments and Brady's stellar play. The Broncos fell to 9-2, losing the opportunity to gain a game in the AFC West.
49ers 27, Redskins 6
In Landover, the 49ers defensively dominated the Redskins, limiting their offense to 190 total yards and no touchdowns. Colin Kaepernick provided a high-level game, throwing three touchdowns without turning the ball over. At 7-4, San Francisco continues to jockey for a playoff position.