The Browns and Jaguars ranked 30th and 32nd (last) in the NFL in total offense coming into this game. They played to their stats, with Cleveland edging Jacksonville 14-10. We would like to give the defense some credit, but we just can't do that after watching Jags receivers flail at two potential game-winning catches in the end zone in the final seconds. Hey, Browns wide receiver Joshua Cribbs had nifty footwork in a TD catch in the fourth quarter (pictured, with cornerback Ashton Youboty defending). That's something. Show that one about eight straight times and you can fill one highlights segment. Recap | Box Score | Scoreboard | Standings
Hey! The Eagles CAN hold a lead!
The biggest culprit in the Philadelphia Eagles’ descent from ‘Dream Team’ to NFC East cellar dweller has been their inability to keep a fourth-quarter lead. Philly held a fourth-quarter lead in five of their six losses entering Sunday night’s game against the Giants, and star QB Michael Vick was out with broken ribs. So all backup Vince Young did was threw a TD pass with 2:45 left in the game to give the Eagles the 17-10 lead — which they actually held on to. The critical victory moved the Eagles to 4-6 and left them three games out of the division lead instead of five with six games left. Recap | Box Score | Scoreboard | Standings
More than a manager
As each week passes, 49ers QB Alex Smith buries a little deeper the idea that he is simply a game manager on a team led by a strong running attack and a top-tier defense. Against the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday, the San Francisco QB threw for 267 yards and a pair of scores to lead his team to a 23-7 victory — and a 9-1 record. The 49ers now stand two games clear of their closest competitor for a first-round bye. And what’s juicier, if the records hold in the playoffs, Smith and his 49ers will face Aaron Rodgers and his still-to-date-unbeaten Green Bay Packers. Smith and Rodgers were at the center of a wild “Who should be No. 1?” debate coming out of college, won by Smith when San Francisco opted for the Utah standout over the local star from Cal. Highlights | Recap | Box Score | Scoreboard | Standings
When you need a return to normalcy . . .
Just turn to your All-Pro wide receiver. Roddy White, often seen playing second fiddle to rookie first-round pick Julio Jones this season (or at the very least having plenty of his touches taken away by the speedster from Alabama), had seven grabs and a season-high 147 yards as the Atlanta Falcons regrouped for a 23-17 win over Tennessee. The victory came a week after an overtime loss to the Saints that was ‘highlighted’ by a controversial fourth-down call by head coach Mike Smith. On Sunday, Atlanta jumped out to a 13-0 lead in the second quarter then held off a rally by rookie Titans QB Jake Locker, who took over in the third quarter after an injury to starter Matt Hasselbeck. Recap | Box Score | Scoreboard | Standings
Chargers season headed up the Rivers
Philip Rivers has gone from on the cusp of superstardom to turnover machine in what has turned into a shocking season in San Diego. But in Chicago on Sunday, Rivers was playing perhaps his best ball of the season — until the fourth quarter. He threw for 280 yards and had the Chargers hanging close with the host Bears, but a pair of late INTs sealed the Bolts’ fate and Chicago escaped with a 31-20 victory. But the damage reaches far beyond the box score. The Chargers lost for the fifth consecutive time, their longest losing streak since starting 2003 0-5, and now sit in last place in the AFC West. At least Rivers maintained his stranglehold on the NFL interception lead. Recap | Box Score | Scoreboard | Standings
Don’t look now . . .
But Marshawn Lynch is putting together quite the season in Seattle. In a game that drew little national interest, the rematch of last season’s Week 17 NFC West-deciding tussle was won by the Seahawks, 24-7 in St. Louis. Lynch failed to get his third consecutive 100-yard game, but he did score for the fourth consecutive week. It was the first back-to-back victories for the 4-6 Seahawks this season, while the Rams fell to 2-8. Highlights | Recap | Box Score | Scoreboard | Standings
Romo can close
The amateur psychologists had a field day with Tony Romo after his fourth-quarter meltdowns against the Jets and Lions earlier in the year. Well, in the Cowboys' 27-24, overtime victory at Washington on Sunday, Romo was a big-time playmaker in the fourth quarter and OT. He was 6 of 12 passing, but it was for a whopping 131 yards with two touchdown passes and no interceptions after the third quarter. He had a 26-yard connection with Dez Bryant to set up the game-winning field goal in OT. Romo has been above 112 in his passer rating for three straight games, all victories. Analyze that. Highlights | Recap | Box Score | Scoreboard | Standings
The Raiders travel well
If you're a fan of the home team, you don't want to see the Raiders come to town. And that's not for the usual reason — their fans. Nope, now you have to worry about the team, too. The Raiders won 27-21 at Minnesota on Sunday to improve to 4-1 on the road. The one loss was a weird one, too, as Buffalo held serve with a furious comeback. Maybe the Raiders let off the gas then; they haven't made that mistake again. When star Vikings running back Adrian Peterson was injured, the Raiders stepped up their defensive aggressiveness. They pressured rookie quarterback Christian Ponder mercilessly, sacking him five times and forcing three interceptions. These Vikings got raided. Recap | Box Score | Scoreboard | Standings
Catfights are fun
The Panthers and Lions have similar color schemes. They've got big cats on their helmets. And they appear to be on similar upswings as franchises. Difference is that Detroit is a couple years ahead on the rebuilding track. The Lions had a bit too much firepower for Carolina on Sunday as they pulled out an entertaining 49-35 victory. One surprising difference was Lions running back Kevin Smith. He had been cut loose as a free agent in March but re-signed by Detroit two weeks ago after they were decimated at the position because of injuries. Smith ran for 140 yards and two touchdowns in 16 carries Sunday and he also had a 28-yard TD reception (pictured). Highlights | Recap | Box Score | Scoreboard | Standings
Leapin' lizards, the Packers are good
Credit the Buccaneers for getting within a two-point conversion of the Packers in the final 4-1/2 minutes. But, really, you didn't think this was in doubt, did you? The Bucs were amped; the Packers were on cruise control. Aaron Rodgers coolly directed a scoring drive after the Bucs' late score to ice the game. He simply has too many weapons to let a game slip away. Weapon No. 1 in Green Bay's 35-26 victory Sunday was receiver Jordy Nelson, who had six catches for 123 yards and two touchdowns. Nelson got to do the Lambeau Leap (pictured). The real leap is coming up with scenarios in which the Packers lose. Recap | Box Score | Scoreboard | Standings
Rookies learn lessons throughout the year
We can't say enough about what Andy Dalton has done as a rookie quarterback, minimizing mistakes as the Bengals thrust themselves into the playoff picture. With a back-loaded schedule, Dalton had the chance to adapt to the league before facing his toughest division rivals. Well, that time is now. Baltimore beat Cincinnati 31-24 on Sunday, a week after fellow AFC North bully Pittsburgh beat the Bengals 24-17. Dalton threw for 373 yards as Cincy hung tough against the Ravens, but his three interceptions were more decisive. In those two losses, Dalton is 39 of 75 passing (52 percent) with five interceptions and three touchdowns. The Bengals have a rematch ahead with each team. How Dalton adjusts will go a long way toward determining his team's postseason chances. Recap | Box Score | Scoreboard | Standings
Role reversal is at play
Are there two teams that better illustrate the topsy-turvy nature of the modern NFL than the Dolphins and Bills? For the first six weeks, the Bills were the league's biggest surprise, getting great QB play and looking the part of a team that could go deep into the playoffs. Miami was the early favorite in the "Suck for Luck" sweepstakes. The only drama was guessing which week would be coach Tony Sparano's last. Now, the teams have traded places. Miami's not going to the playoffs, but it has won three straight games and was sound in all facets Sunday while beating Buffalo 35-8. It was efficient offensively, did not commit a turnover, got two interceptions, blocked a punt (Chris Clemons, pictured) and held the Bills to 0 for 13 on third-down conversions. Up, meet down. Down, meet up. Recap | Box Score | Scoreboard | Standings