Suddenly the Seattle Seahawks are thundering toward the playoffs and they may just be the team no one wants to face in the season’s final weeks. In what could be a first-round playoff matchup, the Seahawks trampled NFC North leader Minnesota 38-7.
Seattle’s defense swarmed all over the Vikings in their home stadium, holding Minnesota to just 125 total yards, including just 18 on eight carries by Adrian Peterson. Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson threw three touchdown passes and the surprising Thomas Rawls, who has taken on the rushing burden following Marshawn Lynch’s absence, ran for 101 yards.
The Seahawks have now won five of their last six games, though two losses to NFC West leader Arizona will probably relegate them to a wild card spot, and they are suddenly looking like one of the league’s most dangerous teams as the postseason looms.
San Francisco 49ers 26-20 Chicago Bears
The Seahawks’ division rival San Francisco may have found their next quarterback and who knew it was Blaine Gabbert? Looking more like Steve Young than the failed Jaguars first round pick, Gabbert raced 44 yards for a game-typing touchdown late in regulation and then hit Torrey Smith with a 71-yard touchdown pass in overtime to lead the Niners to a 26-20 overtime victory over Chicago that all but ended the Bears hopes of winning the NFC North.
Chicago could have won the game in regulation after a 74-yard kickoff return just after Gabbert’s scoring run, but kicker Robbie Gould missed a 36-yard field goal, sending the game into overtime.
New York Jets 23-20 New York Giants
Giants kicker Josh Brown hadn’t missed a field goal all season, then he missed a 48-yard attempt to tie the game in overtime to give the Jets a 23-20 victory. Jets quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick was fantastic in the win, completing 36-of-56 passes for 390 yards and two touchdowns. Receivers Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker combined for 232 receiving yards for the Jets who are now 7-5 and in position to make the playoffs as a wild card.
The loss pushed the Giants out of first in the NFC East and improbably have put Washington, at 5-7, in first place in the division.
Arizona Cardinals 27-3 St Louis Rams
Arizona continued to hold onto their strong division lead with a 27-3 victory over the Rams in St Louis. The Rams were unable to generate much of anything against the Cardinals defense. Quarterback Nick Foles was intercepted once and the Rams were out-gained by 312 yards. Arizona quarterback Carson Palmer threw for 356 yards, while running backs David Johnson and Kerwyn Williams combined for 158.
Jacksonville Jaguars 39-42 Tennessee Titans
Marcus Mariota has struggled at times in his rookie season but the Titans quarterback showed flashes of why Tennessee have put their future in his hands in the 42-39 victory over Jacksonville. Based mostly on a 87-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter he wound up leading the Titans in both passing and rushing.
Mariota threw for 268 yards and three touchdowns in what was his signature game so far in the NFL. The Titans win negated another strong game from Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles who threw five touchdown passes, three of them to Allen Robinson. But as well as Bortles has played this season, his playoff dream all but died as the Jags fell to 4-8.
Atlanta Falcons 19-23 Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Jameis Winston, the man picked ahead of Mariota, led Tampa Bay to a 23-19 victory over Atlanta, hitting Mike Evans on a six-yard touchdown pass with 1:39 left to push the Bucs to 6-6 and into contention for a wild card spot. The Falcons dropped to 6-6 with a dispiriting loss. The Falcons loss sealed the NFC South for the Carolina Panthers, who played later on Sunday.
Houston Texans 21-30 Buffalo Bills
Buffalo pulled out a win they desperately needed as Tyrod Taylor hit Charles Clay with a 40-yard touchdown pass just before the two-minute warning to beat Houston 30-21. Running back LeSean McCoy appeared to have left the game with a concussion in the second half only to return and break off several key runs to finish with 112 yards in a victory that pushed Buffalo to 6-6.
Baltimore Ravens 13-15 Miami Dolphins
Baltimore kicker Justin Tucker missed a 55-yard field goal with 2:47 left in Miami and the Ravens lost yet another game by less than a touchdown – this time 15-13. The Ravens, who are 4-8, have lost all but one of their games by eight or fewer points. Miami, who cling to the slightest of playoff hopes, had only 89 yards passing by quarterback Ryan Tannehill and move to 5-7.
Cincinnati Bengals 37-3 Cleveland Browns
Since the Browns coaches have decided they can’t trust Johnny Manziel, they gave an opportunity to backup quarterback Austin Davis to prove himself at home against Cincinnati’s aggressive defense. It proved to be a disaster. All Davis did was prove he is no more the Browns’ future than any of the other quarterbacks they have rolled out the last few years.
Davis was sacked three times, intercepted once and did not produce a touchdown in the Bengals 37-3 victory. Cincinnati’s AJ Green had five catches for 118 yards and a touchdown as the Bengals clinched a playoff spot at 10-2.
This article was written by Les Carpenter, for theguardian.com on Sunday 6th December 2015 22.03 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010