On Sunday night, Dec. 13, 2015 the New England Patriots defeated the Houston Texans by a final score of 27-6. Despite losing running back Legarrette Blount to injury in the first half, the Patriots offense did just enough, while the defense sacked Texans quarterback Brian Hoyer five times and backup quarterback TJ Yates, once. With the win, the Patriots became the first AFC team to officially clinch a playoff berth. This was the final game played on this 14th Week of the 2015 NFL season.
In the earlier games of the day, the Seattle Seahawks and Cincinnati Bengals suffered injuries to key players which could affect them down the stretch as the playoffs are fast approaching. The Indianapolis Colts suffered a blowout loss and will now battle the Houston Texans down to the wire with a playoff berth on the line.
As far as the biggest individual performers of the day, Chicago quarterback Jay Cutler threw for 315 yards to lead all quarterbacks in that category. Cleveland Browns running back Isaiah Crowell ran for 145 yards, which was tops amongst all rushers. Indianapolis Colts wide receiver T.Y. Hilton and Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green both had 132 receiving yards. Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson threw five touchdown passes to lead all quarterbacks. Here is a deeper look at the scores and stats from all the games of the day.
Steelers (8-5) 33, Bengals (10-3) 20: @ Cincinnati – In this old school AFC North rivalry, the Pittsburgh Steelers came up with a big win on the road against the Cincinnati Bengals. The visiting Steelers jumped out to a 13-0 lead midway through the second quarter and never looked back. Of greater concernTotal offensive yards: Total net rushing yards: Third down efficiency: Turnovers: for the Bengals, is the long-term availability of quarterback Andy Dalton and tight end Tyler Eifert, both of whom were injured in the first quarter and did not return. Eifert suffered a concussion, and Dalton suffered a fracture to the thumb of his throwing hand when he tried to make a tackle after throwing an interception. Backup quarterback A.J. McCarron finished out the game, completing 22 of 32 passes for 280 yards, with two touchdowns and two interceptions. Total offensive yards: CIN 385, PIT 354. Total net rushing yards: PIT 84, CIN 64. Third down efficiency: PIT 8/14, CIN 3/8. Turnovers: PIT 1, CIN 3.
Redskins (6-7) 24, Bears (5-8) 21: @ Chicago – Playing in front of their home fans, the Chicago Bears overcame an early 14-point deficit and were tied going into the fourth quarter, but ultimately came up short against the visiting Washington Redskins. Early in the fourth quarter, the score was tied 21-21 before a 47-yard field goal by Redskins kicker Dustin Hopkins gave Washington a 24-21 lead. The Bears had a golden opportunity to tie the game with under two minutes to play, but Bears kicker Robbie Gould missed a 50-yard field goal. With the win, the Redskins kept pace with the Philadelphia Eagles and maintained a share of the lead in the NFC East division. Total offensive yards: CHI 377, WAS 374. Total net rushing yards: WAS 99, CHI 87. Third down efficiency: WAS 7/12, CHI 5/11. Turnovers: WAS 1, CHI 1.
Browns (3-10) 24, 49ers (4-9) 10: @ Cleveland – In this battle of teams playing for pride and dignity, the Cleveland Browns came up big in front of their home fans. The visiting San Francisco team found themselves trailing 10-0 early in the second quarter and were down 17-3 entering the fourth quarter. The big story of the game, was Cleveland quarterback Johnny Manziel. Three weeks ago, his propensity for partying had gotten him demoted to third-string. Due to injury to Josgh McCown and the ineffectiveness of Austin Davis, Manziel wound up getting his starting job back. This time around, “Johnny Football” made the most of his opportunity; now comes the test of time. Browns running back Isaiah Crowell was also a main cog in the Cleveland offense, as he rushed for 145 yards and two touchdowns on 20 carries. Total offensive yards: CLE 481, SF 221. Total net rushing yards: CLE 230, SF 71. Third down efficiency: CLE 6/12, SF 2/13. Turnovers: SF 0, CLE 2.
Panthers (13-0) 38, Falcons (6-7) 0: @ Carolina – This one was over before it started. The Carolina Panthers rolled up 227 yards of total offense, en route to a 21-0 first quarter lead over the visiting Atlanta Falcons. The lopsided victory guarantees Carolina a first-round bye when the playoffs get underway in a few weeks. The only question now, is whether they will chose to rest players over the course of the remaining three regular season games, or go for the perfect 16-0 record. After starting the season 5-0, the Atlanta Falcons continue to decline. Total offensive yards: CAR 424, ATL 230. Total net rushing yards: CAR 142, ATL 54. Third down efficiency: CAR 6/12, ATL 4/14. Turnovers: CAR 0, ATL 4.
Chiefs (8-5) 10, Chargers (3-10) 3: @ Kansas City – Playing at home, in front of a sea of red-clad fans, the Kansas City Chiefs took a huge step toward securing a playoff berth. As for the San Diego Chargers, it was just more of the same frustration as their dismal season winds down. The Chargers had the ball inside the Kansas City one-yard line with 16 seconds remaining, but the game ended when Danny Woodhead was unable to corral a Philip Rivers pass in the end zone. With three games remaining, the Chiefs now have the same record as the New York Jets and Pittsburgh Steelers; the three teams are battling for two AFC Wild card spots. This was the seventh straight win for the Chiefs who have Baltimore, Cleveland and Oakland remaining on their regular season schedule. Total offensive yards: KC 329, SD 280. Total net rushing yards: KC 150, SD 44. Third down efficiency: KC 6/11, SD 6/18. Turnovers: SD 1, KC 2.
Jets (8-5) 30, Titans (3-10) 8: @ New York – With a solid victory in front of their home fans, the New York Jets kept themselves in the thick of the AFC Wild card race. The ferocious Jets defense sacked Tennessee Titans rookie quarterback Marcus Mariota five times. Meanwhile, the Jets offense used a strong running attack to control the tempo of the game. In their quest for the postseason, the Jets now have Dallas, New England and Buffalo remaining on the schedule. Total offensive yards: NYJ 439, TEN 292. Total net rushing yards: NYJ 183, TEN 24. Third down efficiency: NYJ 7/15, TEN 3/14. Turnovers: NYJ 0, TEN 1.
Rams (5-8) 21, Lions (4-9) 14: @ St Louis – The Rams may not be in St. Louis much longer, but they were able to finally snap their five-game losing streak in front of what are currently their home fans. Rookie sensation Todd Gurley ran for 140 yards and two touchdowns. Gurley only carried the ball 16 times, but was able to shred the Detroit defense almost at will. On the other side of the ball, the Rams defense sacked Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford four times, while limiting Lions star wide receiver Calvin Johnson to just one catch. Total offensive yards: DET 331, StL 317. Total net rushing yards: StL 203, DET 111. Third down efficiency: DET 5/13, StL 4/11. Turnovers: StL 1, DET 1.
Eagles (6-7) 23, Bills (6-7) 20: @ Philadelphia – Philadelphia sports fans are notoriously tough on their teams. For that reason, it is probably for the best, that the Eagles won this hard fought battle with the Buffalo Bills. With playoff hopes hanging in the balance, the Eagles maintained their share of the NFC East division. The Buffalo Bills saw their AFC postseason hopes dealt a crushing blow, as they are now two games behind the Pittsburgh Steelers, New York Jets and Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC playoff race. Total offensive yards: BUF 412, PHI 348. Total net rushing yards: BUF 152, PHI 116. Third down efficiency: PHI 9/18, BUF 7/17. Turnovers: PHI 1, BUF 2.
Saints (5-8) 24, Buccaneers (6-7) 17: @ Tampa Bay – The education of Tampa Bay Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston, continues. In this game, wily veteran quarterback Drew Brees of the New Orleans Saints, got the better of him. Before the Bucs new what hit them, Brees had thrown a pair of touchdown passes to Marques Colston to put the visiting team ahead 14-0 and steal the momentum. Last week, New Orleans went down to the wire with the Carolina Panthers, but lost. Though not in the playoff picture themselves, the Saints can still play the role of spoiler as they face potential playoff teams in these final weeks. The win ends a four-game losing streak. Total offensive yards: NO 388, TB 291. Total net rushing yards: TB 115, NO 87. Third down efficiency: 12/17, 4/11. Turnovers: NO 0, TB 0.
Seahawks (8-5) 35, Ravens (4-9) 6: @ Baltimore – Playing on the road, the Seattle Seahawks found little resistance as they continued their playoff push. The injury-riddled Baltimore Ravens were little more than cannon fodder for the reigning NFC champions. Unfortunately for the Seahawks, the win proved costly. Seattle running back Thoms Rawls who had filled in admirably for injured running back Marshawn Lynch, suffered a broken ankle and will be lost for the balance of the season. If Lynch does not come back soon, this could prove to be a devastating blow to the lofty aspirations of the Seattle franchise. Total offensive yards: SEA 424, BAL 302. Total net rushing yards: SEA 123, BAL 28. Third down efficiency: SEA 8/12, BAL 3/11. Turnovers: SEA 1, BAL 2.
Jaguars (5-8) 51, Colts (6-7) 16: @ Jacksonville – In front of an appreciative home crowd, some of whom watched the game while wearing bikinis and enjoying swimming pools set up inside the stadium, the Jags rocked the Indianapolis Colts. The game was close until Jacksonville came to life in a big way. Indy led 13-9 at halftime, but then were outscored 42-3 in the second half. Considered by many to be AFC Super Bowl favorites when the season began, the Colts playoff situation has now become rather curious. Total offensive yards: JAX 380, IND 322. Total net rushing yards: JAX 154, IND 95. Third down efficiency: IND 4/16, JAX 2/9. Turnovers: JAX 2, IND 2.
Raiders (6-7) 15, Broncos (10-3) 12: @ Denver – Division games are tough. Despite holding the visiting Oakland Raiders to the embarrassing stat of – 12 yards of offense for the first half, the Denver Broncos could not put the visiting team away. After three straight wins, Broncos quarterback Brock Osweiler finally experienced the other side of the coin. Amazingly, the Raiders won the game despite generating a paltry 126 yards of total offense, but they managed to go the entire game without committing a turnover. Also, Oakland linebacker Khalil Mack, sacked Osweiler five times. Despite the loss, Denver is still in prime position to make the playoffs and it would take an rather unfathomable chain of events for them to miss out. Total offensive yards: DEN 310, OAK 126. Total net rushing yards: DEN 34, OAK 27. Third down efficiency: DEN 4/18, OAK 3/15. Turnovers: OAK 0, DEN 2.
Packers (9-4) 28, Cowboys (4-9) 7: @ Green Bay – It hasn’t been easy, but the Green Bay Packers have been scratching out wins and now find themsekves alone atop the NFC North division. Against the visiting Dallas Cowboys, the Pack systematically wore down the injury-depleted visiting team and took control as the game wore on. Enigmatic Packers running back Eddie Lacy ran for 124 yards and scored one touchdown. Just a few weeks ago, it looked like the Minnesota Vikings had firm control of the NFC North, but the Packers have a championship pedigree and it is beginning to show. Total offensive yards: GB 435, DAL 270. Total net rushing yards: GB 230, DAL 171. Third down efficiency: GB 7/14, DAL 1/11. Turnovers: GB 0, DAL 1.