NFL Football 2013: 5 Things We Learned From Week 12
Quarterbacks came up big in Sunday's key games, as playoff races took shape. Here are five things we learned in Week 12:
The Packers Can't Win a Game Without Aaron Rodgers
The Green Bay Packers (5-5-1) rallied from a 16-point fourth-quarter deficit against the Minnesota Vikings (2-8-1) to send the game into overtime tied at 26. And, that was how the contest ended. Backup quarterback Matt Flynn bailed the Packers out of the hole, but he didn't deliver the team's first win since Aaron Rodgers' left collarbone injury on Nov. 4 against the Bears. The Packers have now tried three arms — Seneca Wallace, Scott Tolzien and Flynn — to equal the one Rodgers' didn't injure. Hurry back, Aaron.
Cam Newton Is Becoming a Superstar
Overshadowed by young quarterbacks like Colin Kaepernick, Robert Griffin III and Andrew Luck in 2012, Cam Newton has stolen back the spotlight by leading the Carolina Panthers (8-3) toward a playoff spot. Newton led his team back from a 13-point, first-half deficit against the Dolphins (5-6) in Miami on Sunday. He capped off his second late comeback in seven days with a 1-yard TD pass to Greg Olsen with 43 seconds to play, which gave Carolina a 20-16 win. Newton is on pace for career-bests in touchdown passes, completion percentage and QB rating, and he's winning games with his head (and his arm), instead of his feet.
The Chiefs Defense Is a Mess
The Chiefs' defense let the team down for the second week in a row. Chargers' quarterback Philip Rivers scorched Kansas City (9-2) for 392 yards and three touchdowns in Sunday's 41-38 win, including a 26-yard scoring toss to Seyi Ajirotutu with 24 seconds to play. It doesn't get easier for the Chiefs. They'll face the Broncos for the second time in three weeks next Sunday, and they could be without pass rushers Tamba Hali and Justin Houston, both of whom were injured against San Diego (5-6). No pass rush against Peyton Manning? What could go wrong?
Tony Romo Can Be Clutch, Too
Cowboys' quarterback Tony Romo is often maligned for the team's losses. His performance in Sunday's 24-21 win over the Giants could help his reputation. After leading Dallas (6-5) to a commanding 21-6 lead in the third quarter, Romo engineered a 14-play drive that set up Dan Bailey's game-winning 35-yard field goal on the final play. The loss may have finally ended the post-season hopes of the Giants (4-7). Cowboys' fans were probably just glad Romo helped end someone else's season instead of theirs.
Tom Brady Is Never Out of a Game
When the Denver Broncos (9-2) broke out to a 24-0 first-half lead on Sunday night, some viewers in the TV audience may have switched over to the American Music Awards' broadcast. They missed a virtuoso performance from Tom Brady & the Pats. Brady threw for 344 yards and three touchdowns, as New England (8-3) came back to win 34-31 in overtime. The Patriots got lucky in the extra session as Ryan Allen's punt bounced and hit Denver's Tony Carter. New England recovered to set up Stephen Gostkowski's 31-yard field goal with 1:56 left in OT. There was nothing lucky about the way Brady erased the 24-point deficit by the 13:13 mark of the fourth quarter. Fans in New England certainly haven't grown tired of Brady's predictable success.