Week Fifteen NFL Recaps

Arizona Cardinals 12 @ St. Louis Rams 6

  • Cardinals kicker Chandler Catanzaro was the difference on Thursday night in St. Louis. Catanzaro accounted for all of Arizona’s points by making four field goals, including one from 51-yards out. In a defensive struggle, the Cardinals delivered the final blow when cornerback Patrick Peterson made an interception with a second remaining in the game. Arizona improved to 11-3 on the season. Rams quarterback Shaun Hill completed 20 of 39 passes for 229-yards and the interception. Drew Stanton completed 12 of 20 passes for 109-yards before leaving the game with a sprained knee. Stanton was replaced by Ryan Lindley. The Cardinals ran for a total of 143-yards, including 75-yards on 15 carries from Kerwynn Williams. Stepfan Taylor complemented Williams’ efforts, carrying 14 times for 61-yards.

Pittsburgh Steelers 27 @ Atlanta Falcons 20

  • Ben Roethlisberger completed 27 of 35 passes for 360-yards in the game. Roethlisberger’s passing helped set up two Le’Veon Bell touchdown runs. Bell accounted for 119-yards of total offense. Antonio Brown was Roethlisberger’s primary target, catching ten passes for 123-yards. Matt Ryan completed 26 of 37 passes for 310-yards and two touchdowns. Harry Douglas made ten receptions for 131-yards. Devin Hester caught one touchdown while Roddy White caught the other. Hester tallied 173 all-purpose yards. Meanwhile, White’s touchdown capped off a ten play, 84-yard drive in the fourth quarter and pulled the Falcons within seven. However, the Steelers ran out the clock when they had the ball late in the game.

New York Giants 24 vs. Washington Redskins 13

  • Eli Manning completed 23 of 34 passes for 250-yards and three touchdowns, all of which went to Odell Beckham Jr. The young wide out continued his stellar rookie season on Sunday afternoon, catching 12 passes for 143-yards. Robert Griffin III helped generate some momentum for the Redskins offense. Griffin completed 18 of 27 passes for 263-yards and a touchdown. He also ran for 46-yards on five carries. The Giants defense recorded seven sacks, including two and a half each from Jason Pierre-Paul and Johnathan Hankins. With the win, New York swept the season series with Washington.

New England Patriots 41 vs. Miami Dolphins 13

  • The Patriots led by one at halftime, but completely broke the game wide open throughout the second half by scoring 27 unanswered points. New England also clinched their sixth consecutive AFC East title, and eleventh in the last twelve years. Tom Brady completed 21 of 35 passes for 287-yards and two touchdowns. Rob Gronkowski made a scoring reception from 27-yards out while finishing the game with three catches for 96-yards. The Patriots defense sacked Ryan Tannehill four times and intercepted two of his passes. Tannehill did throw for 346-yards, which included a 32-yard touchdown pass to Mike Wallace, who made five catches for 104-yards.

Kansas City Chiefs 31 vs. Oakland Raiders 13

  • Looking to put an end to their three game losing streak, including a week twelve loss to the Raiders, the Chiefs did so in a big way. Alex Smith completed 18 of 29 passes for 270-yards and two touchdowns. Running back Knile Davis caught one from 70-yards out. Davis also added a rushing touchdown. The biggest blow was dealt by Kansas City’s special teams as De’Anthony Thomas returned a punt for an 81-yard touchdown in the first quarter. The Chiefs defense registered four sacks and limited the Raiders to a single touchdown, which was a one-yard touchdown pass from Derek Carr to James Jones in the fourth quarter.

Indianapolis Colts 17 vs. Houston Texans 10

  • The Colts became the second team to clinch its division on Sunday afternoon. Indianapolis won their second consecutive AFC South crown by completing a season sweep of the Houston Texans. Andrew Luck overcame an earlier interception returned for a touchdown with a pair of second quarter touchdown passes. Luck completed 18 of 34 passes for 187-yards. Arian Foster led the way for the Texans offense. Foster rushed for 99-yards and racked up 117-yards of total offense. Rookie quarterback Tom Savage replaced Ryan Fitzpatrick and completed ten of 19 passes for 127-yards. Savage actually had a chance to lead the Texans to a game-tying touchdown. With a minute and a half remaining, Colts cornerback Vontae Davis came up with an interception to preserve the hard fought victory.

Baltimore Ravens 20 vs. Jacksonville Jaguars 12

  • Early in the game, the Ravens special teams landed the first blow. Kamar Aiken recovered a blocked punt for an 11-yard touchdown. Joe Flacco, who completed 20 of 30 passes for 221-yards, threw a three-yard touchdown pass to tight end Owen Daniels. The Ravens defense sacked Blake Bortles eight times, including two and a half by linebacker Terrell Suggs. The Jaguars were held without a single touchdown and their offense was limited to 248-yards. Baltimore improved its record to 9-5.

Buffalo Bills 21 vs. Green Bay Packers 13

  • A monumental upset took place in Buffalo on Sunday afternoon. The Bills special teams and defense were responsible for knocking out the Green Bay Packers. Marcus Thigpen returned a punt for a 75-yard touchdown and kicker Dan Carpenter made four field goals. Buffalo’s defense held Aaron Rodgers to just 17 completions in 42 attempts and intercepted him twice. The final blow was delivered when the unit recorded a safety late in the fourth quarter. Buffalo’s victory improved their record to 8-6 while Green Bay dropped to 10-4.

Carolina Panthers 19 vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers 17

  • Earlier in the week, Cam Newton fractured his back following a car accident, which meant that Derek Anderson would start for the Panthers. Anderson completed 25 of 40 passes for 277-yards and a touchdown pass to Jerricho Cotchery. Anderson also benefitted from the pass-catching abilities of Greg Olsen and Kelvin Benjamin. Olsen made ten receptions for 110-yards while Benjamin caught eight passes for 104-yards. The Buccaneers would keep the game close though. Josh McCown ran for a touchdown and threw for another as his 16-yard touchdown pass to Mike Evans capped off an 11 play, 80-yard drive late in the fourth quarter. McCown attempted a last ditch hail Mary pass to Evans, but his pass was intercepted by Panthers linebacker Luke Kuechly with 14 seconds remaining in the game. Carolina hung on for the win and kept their hopes alive for the NFC South title.

Cincinnati Bengals 30 @ Cleveland Browns 0

  • The Bengals opened the game with a 14 play, 81-yard drive, which ate up over seven minutes. Running back Jeremy Hill ran for a two-yard touchdown to finish the march. Later in the game, Hill ran for another score from 16-yards out while gaining 148-yards on 25 carries. Giovanni Bernard carried the ball 15 times for 79-yards and racked up 103-yards of total offense. Overall, Cincinnati gained 244-yards on the ground. Rookie quarterback Johnny Manziel got his first start for the Browns, but his outing was a rough one. Manziel threw for just 80-yards and was picked off twice. The Browns offense was held to just five first downs and 107-total yards in the shutout loss.

New York Jets 16 @ Tennessee Titans 11

  • Geno Smith completed 16 of 28 passes for 179-yards and a nine-yard touchdown pass to fullback John Conner. Smith’s leading receiver was Eric Decker, who caught seven passes for 100-yards. In his first return to Tennessee, running back Chris Johnson gained 55-yards on ten carries. Johnson’s running led to Chris Ivory’s one-yard touchdown run which capped off an 11 play, 76-yard drive. With just over three minutes remaining, Titans quarterback Charlie Whitehurst led the offense down the field in an attempt to take the lead. On fourth and 17 from the Jets 29-yard line, Whitehurst’s pass fell incomplete and the Jets hung on for the win.

Denver Broncos 22 @ San Diego Chargers 10

  • After the Broncos defeated the Chargers in San Diego, they clinched their fourth straight AFC West title under head coach John Fox. Peyton Manning completed 14 of 20 passes for 233-yards and a 28-yard touchdown strike to Demaryius Thomas. Thomas made six receptions for 123-yards and his scoring reception resulted in Denver’s only touchdown of the game. Kicker Connor Barth added five field goals. The Broncos defense intercepted Philip Rivers twice and limited the Chargers to a single touchdown. Not only did the Broncos win the division, they also improved their record to 11-3 and improved their divisional record to 5-0.

Detroit Lions 16 vs. Minnesota Vikings 14

  • At Detroit’s Ford Field, the Vikings erupted to a 14-0 lead. Running back Matt Asiata scored on a two-yard run to end a ten play, 84-yard drive in the first quarter. Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater then found Greg Jennings for an eight-yard touchdown pass to cap off a seven play, 75-yard drive in the second. The Lions quickly retaliated as safety Glover Quin intercepted a pass for a 56-yard return. Two plays later, Matthew Stafford found Golden Tate for a seven-yard scoring strike. Kicker Matt Prater added three field goals, including a 33-yarder which gave Detroit a two-point lead with over three and a half minutes remaining. Minnesota had a couple of chances to win the game. On their ensuing drive, the Vikings tried to convert on fourth and four, but Bridgewater’s pass to Cordarrelle Patterson fell incomplete. With one second left, Blair Walsh trotted onto the field to attempt a 68-yard field goal, but his kick fell short of the goal post. The Lions’ ugly win gave them a 10-4 record and the first place lead in the NFC North. The Vikings, on the other hand, were officially eliminated from playoff contention with the loss. Matthew Stafford completed 17 of 28 passes for 153-yards and a touchdown pass. Running back Joique Bell racked up 103-yards of total offense. Teddy Bridgewater completed 31 of 41 passes for 315-yards and a touchdown, but also threw two interceptions.

Seattle Seahawks 17 vs. San Francisco 49ers 7

  • Russell Wilson overcame five sacks to complete 12 of 24 passes for 168-yards and a touchdown pass to Paul Richardson. Wilson also ran for 27-yards on five carries. Marshawn Lynch gained 91-yards on 21 carries and scored a touchdown. The Seahawks defense sacked Colin Kaepernick six times and held the 49ers offense to a single touchdown, a ten-yard run by Frank Gore. Gore only managed 29-yards on 11 carries against Seattle’s defense. The Seahawks improved to 10-4 and pulled to within one game of the Cardinals for the NFC West title. For the 49ers, this loss dropped them to 7-7 and officially eliminated them from playoff contention.

Dallas Cowboys 38 @ Philadelphia Eagles 27 (SNF on NBC)

  • The Cowboys erupted for a three touchdown lead in the first half of Sunday night’s game. Tony Romo finished the game by completing 22 of 31 passes for 265-yards and three touchdowns. All three went to Dez Bryant, who made six receptions for 114-yards. The Eagles would come back. Mark Sanchez passed for 252-yards, but all three of Philadelphia’s touchdowns came courtesy of their running game. Chris Polk found the end zone twice and Darren Sproles scored once as the Eagles took a three point lead. Dallas would score three more times to put Philadelphia away. Their defense intercepted Sanchez twice while only allowing a single field goal. Romo’s passing was complemented by DeMarco Murray’s hard running. Murray pounded out 81-yards on 31 carries and scored twice, but he would suffer a fractured hand in the process. The victory gave the Cowboys the first place lead in the NFC East.

New Orleans Saints 31 @ Chicago Bears 15 (MNF on ESPN)

  • On Monday night, the Saints scored 24 unanswered points. Drew Brees completed 29 of 36 passes for 375-yards and three touchdowns. Tight end Josh Hill made two scoring receptions. Running back Mark Ingram also found the end zone from 15-yards out. On defense, the Saints sacked Jay Cutler seven times, including three from linebacker David Hawthorne. Cutler also threw three interceptions and finished the game completing 17 of 31 passes for 194-yards and a couple of fourth quarter touchdowns. In the end, New Orleans improved its record to 6-8 and moved up to the first place spot in the NFC South.

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