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NFL 2011 Season – Week 16 Recap

Aaron Rodgers
Matthew Stockman, Getty Images

Most of the NFL schedule for Week 16 was completed on Saturday, Christmas Eve, instead of the traditional game day of Sunday. Here’s a recap of all the Week 16 NFL action from this weekend:

Sunday, Dec. 25

Green Bay 35 – Chicago 21

Aaron Rodgers threw for 283 yards and five touchdowns, and the Green Bay Packers beat the Chicago Bears 35-21 on Christmas night. With the victory, Green Bay (14-1) clinched home-field advantage throughout the NFC title game. Chicago (7-8) was eliminated from playoff contention with the loss, which subsequently guaranteed Atlanta a playoff spot. The Falcons play Monday night against New Orleans.

Rodgers’ second touchdown pass of the game, a 2-yarder to James Jones just before halftime, gave the Packers a 14-3 lead at the break. The Bears pulled within 14-10 in the third quarter when offensive lineman Edwin Williams recovered a fumble by Chicago running back Kahlil Bell in the end zone. However, the Packers closed out the period by scoring two touchdowns on Rodgers’ passes of 55 yards to Jordy Nelson and 7 yards to Jones, and the Bears were unable to rally.

Nelson caught six passes for 115 yards and two touchdowns, while Jones had four receptions for 50 yards and two scores for the Packers. Bell carried 23 times for 121 yards for the Bears, while quarterback Josh McCown passed for 242 yards, two interceptions and a meaningless 1-yard touchdown to Kellen Davis late in the game.

Saturday, Dec. 24

Detroit 38 – San Diego 10

Matthew Stafford threw three touchdown passes, and the Detroit Lions beat the San Diego Chargers 38-10 to clinch their first playoff berth since 1999. Detroit (10-5) will be one of two NFC wild card teams thanks to an offensive attack that sprinted to a 24-0 halftime lead and never allowed the Chargers to get back into the game. San Diego (7-8) was eliminated from playoff contention with the loss.

Stafford passed for 373 yards and the three scores, including a 14-yard touchdown to Calvin Johnson, who finished with four catches for 102 yards for the Lions. Nate Burleson chipped in another 83 yards receiving on six catches for Detroit. Philip Rivers threw for 299 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions for San Diego. Malcom Floyd led the Chargers with 95 receiving yards and a score on six receptions, while Ryan Mathews carried 11 times for 58 yards.

New England 27 – Miami 24

Tom Brady completed 20 of his 27 second-half passes as the New England Patriots beat the Miami Dolphins 27-24. After trailing 17-0 at the half, New England (12-3) scored on its first five possessions of the second half, including 10 points that came after Dolphins’ turnovers. The win clinched a first-round AFC playoff bye for the Patriots, who swept their season series from Miami (5-10).

Brady passed for 304 yards and a touchdown, while he ran for two more scores. He was sacked four times by the Dolphins’ defense. Wes Welker led the Patriots with 12 receptions for 138 yards. Stevan Ridley ran for 64 yards for New England. Miami’s Matt Moore threw for 294 yards and three touchdowns, but he also fumbled and had a pass picked off. Reggie Bush ran for 113 yards for the Dolphins, who were led in receiving by Brandon Marshall’s seven catches for 156 yards and a score.

Oakland 16 – Kansas City 13 (OT)

Sebastian Janikowski kicked a 36-yard field goal in overtime, and the Oakland Raiders beat the Kansas City Chiefs 16-13. Carson Palmer threw a 53-yard pass to Darrius Heyward-Bey on the first play from scrimmage of the extra session to set up Janikowski’s game-winning kick for Oakland (8-7). The Chiefs had an opportunity to win in regulation, but Ryan Succop’s 49-yard field goal as time expired was blocked by the Raiders’ Richard Seymour, his second blocked kick of the game. The loss eliminated Kansas City (6-9) from playoff contention.

Palmer passed for 237 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions for the Raiders. Michael Bush led Oakland with 70 yards rushing. Raiders’ receiver Denarius Moore caught four passes for 94 yards, including a touchdown. Kyle Orton threw for 300 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions for the Chiefs. Dexter McCluster led Kansas City with 89 receiving yards on his five catches, while Dwayne Bowe caught six passes for 80 yards and a score.

N.Y. Giants 29 – N.Y. Jets 14

Victor Cruz scored on a 99-yard touchdown pass and Ahmad Bradshaw ran for two touchdowns, as the New York Giants beat the New York Jets 29-14. The Jets had closed to within 20-14 in the fourth quarter, but quarterback Mark Sanchez was sacked for a safety on the Jets’ next drive. Bradshaw then scored the clinching touchdown on a 19-yard run a few seconds later. With the victory, the Giants (8-7) can win the NFC East by beating Dallas at home next Sunday. To make the AFC playoffs, the Jets (8-7) must win at Miami next week and hope that Cincinnati, Tennessee and either Oakland or Denver all lose.

Cruz had three catches for 164 yards, including the 99-yarder in the second quarter that gave the Giants the lead for good. Bradshaw finished with 54 rushing yards and the two scores. Eli Manning completed just nine of 27 passes for 225 yards, a touchdown and an interception for the Giants. Jets’ quarterback Mark Sanchez completed 30 of a career-high 59 pass attempts for 258 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions. He also ran for a score, but he was sacked five times and fumbled once. Shonn Greene ran for 58 yards for the Jets, who were led in receiving by tight end Dustin Keller’s eight catches and 77 yards.

Cincinnati 23 – Arizona 16

Andy Dalton threw two touchdown passes, and the Cincinnati Bengals beat the Arizona Cardinals 23-16. The Cardinals trailed 23-0 heading into the fourth quarter. Their rally fell short when receiver Early Doucet tripped in pursuit of a possible game-tying touchdown pass with 1:12 left. Cincinnati (9-6) can clinch the last AFC wild card berth by beating Baltimore at home next Sunday. Arizona (7-8) was eliminated from playoff contention as a result of the loss.

Dalton passed for 154 yards and the two touchdowns, including an 11-yarder to Jermaine Gresham, who had five catches for 56 yards for the Bengals. Cedric Benson ran for 57 yards for Cincinnati, but he also fumbled twice. Arizona quarterback John Skelton threw for 297 yards, two touchdowns and three interceptions. He was sacked five times. Larry Fitzgerald caught six passes for 105 yards and a score for the Cardinals, who had Beanie Wells run for 53 yards.

Buffalo 40 – Denver 14

Tim Tebow was intercepted four times in the second half, including two that were returned for touchdowns, and the Buffalo Bills routed the Denver Broncos 40-14. Ahead 23-14 heading into the fourth quarter, Buffalo (6-9) used an inspired defensive effort to ensure Tebow didn’t lead the Broncos to another comeback win. Denver (8-7) remained in control of its playoff destiny, but it needs to win next week at home to secure the AFC West title.

C.J. Spiller led the Bills with 111 yards on 16 carries, including a touchdown. Stevie Johnson caught four passes for 92 for Buffalo, which saw quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick throw for 196 yards. Tebow finished with 185 passing yards, a touchdown and the four picks. He also scored on a 1-yard plunge on the Broncos’ first drive. Willis McGahee had 64 yards rushing for Denver, while Demaryius Thomas caught four passes for 76 yards.

San Francisco 19 – Seattle 17

David Akers kicked a 39-yard field goal with 2:57 to play, and the San Francisco 49ers beat the Seattle Seahawks 19-17. The Seahawks had rallied to take a 17-16 lead, when Marshawn Lynch scored on a 4-yard run with 6:41 remaining. Akers’ four field goals in the game gave him 42 this season, which broke the NFL record of 40 set by Arizona’s Neil Rackers in 2005. Already the NFC West champs, San Francisco (12-3) can still clinch a first-round bye if it finishes ahead of New Orleans. Seattle (7-8) was eliminated from playoff contention with the loss.

49ers’ receiver Michael Crabtree caught five passes for 85 yards, while Frank Gore ran for 83 yards and a touchdown. San Francisco quarterback Alex Smith passed for 179 yards. Lynch led the Seahawks with 107 rushing yards and a touchdown. Seattle’s Tarvaris Jackson passed for 163 yards, including a 13-yard scoring toss to Doug Baldwin in the first quarter.

Tennessee 23 – Jacksonville 17

Matt Hasselbeck passed for 350 yards and a touchdown, and the Tennessee Titans beat the Jacksonville Jaguars 23-17. The victory allowed Tennessee (8-7) to stay alive in the AFC wild-card playoff chase. Titans’ tight end Jared Cook had had eight catches for 169 yards, including a 55-yard touchdown in the first quarter. Chris Johnson ran for 56 yards for Tennessee, which won despite committing three turnovers. Jacksonville (4-11) dropped its second straight game. Maurice Jones-Drew ran for 103 yards and a score for the Jaguars. He also caught six passes for 21 yards. Quarterback Blaine Gabbert threw for 198 yards and an interception for Jacksonville.

Philadelphia 20 – Dallas 7

Michael Vick passed for 293 yards and two touchdowns, and the Philadelphia Eagles beat the Dallas Cowboys 20-7. Philadelphia (7-8) was eliminated from playoff contention when the Giants finished beating the Jets halfway through the first quarter of the contest at Cowboys Stadium. DeSean Jackson caught five passes for 90 yards for the Eagles. Dallas (8-7) is tied for first place in the NFC East and must win against the Giants in New York next Sunday to make the playoffs. Dallas’ quarterback Tony Romo hurt his hand on the helmet of an opposing player while throwing an incompletion in the first quarter, and he did not return to the game afterward. Stephen McGee replaced Romo and passed for 182 yards and a 4-yard touchdown to Miles Austin with 7 seconds to play that allowed the Cowboys to avoid being shutout.

Minnesota 33 – Washington 26

Though they lost running back Adrian Peterson to a torn left knee ligament and quarterback  Christian Ponder to a possible concussion on consecutive plays to begin the second half, the Minnesota Vikings beat the Washington Redskins 33-26. Toby Gerhart replaced Peterson and gained 109 yards. Webb passed for 84 yards and two touchdowns, and he ran for another score to lead Minnesota (3-12), which tallied 23 second-half points. Washington (5-10) lost, despite getting 132 yards rushing from rookie running back Evan Royster. Redskins’ quarterback Rex Grossman passed for 284 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. He also fumbled. Jabar Gaffney caught six passes for 77 yards and a score for Washington.

Baltimore 20 – Cleveland 14

Joe Flacco threw for 132 yards and two touchdown passes, and the Baltimore Ravens beat the Cleveland Browns 20-14. Baltimore (11-4) can win the AFC North by beating Cincinnati on the road next Sunday. Ray Rice ran for 87 yards and caught a touchdown pass for the Ravens, who led 20-0 before Joshua Cribbs returned a punt 84 yards for a score in the third quarter to get Cleveland (4-11) on the scoreboard. Cleveland quarterback Seneca Wallace threw for 147 yards, an interception and a late 6-yard touchdown to Evan Moore that got the Browns within six points, but they could not complete the rally. Peyton Hillis paced the Browns with 112 rushing yards.

Pittsburgh 27 – St. Louis 0

Charlie Batch threw for 208 yards in place of the injured Ben Roethlisberger, and the Pittsburgh Steelers shut out the St. Louis Rams 27-0. Pittsburgh (11-4) kept pace with Baltimore in the AFC North as a result of the victory. Steelers’ running back Rashard Mendenhall ran for 116 yards and a touchdown against the NFL’s worst rush defense, while Mike Wallace caught four passes for 82 yards for Pittsburgh. St. Louis (2-13) totaled just 232 yards of offense. The Rams’ Steven Jackson carried 24 times for 103 yards, while quarterback Kellen Clemens completed just nine of 24 passes for 91 yards. He was sacked three times.

Carolina 48 – Tampa Bay 16

Cam Newton passed for 171 yards and three touchdowns and he added another score on a 49-yard run, as the Carolina Panthers beat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 48-16. Carolina (6-9) led 20-10 at the half, but broke it open with a 21-point third quarter. Newton broke Peyton Manning’s NFL rookie record for yards passing in a season with his performance. DeAngelo Williams added two touchdowns and 66 rushing yards for the Panthers. Carolina’s Brandon LaFell had 103 yards receiving and a score on three receptions. Tampa Bay (4-11) had four turnovers, including three fumbles. Quarterback Josh Freeman passed for 274 yards for the Buccaneers, who lost their ninth straight game.

Thursday, Dec. 22

Indianpolis 19 – Houston 16

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