Has the afterglow worn off yet from yesterday's Miracle in the Motor City? Mine either. But as I looked over the slate of NFL games from yesterday, I realized that Indianapolis isn't alone in celebrating a team that refused to quit and came up with a big victory this week. This is the time of year when we start to see which teams (like the Colts) have the will to win and which teams (like the Philadelphia Eagles) have all but packed it in for 2012.
The Steelers' offense looked woeful two weeks ago with Byron Leftwich at the controls and even worse last week with Charlie Batch trying to do his best Earl Morrall impersonation. With Ben Roethlisberger out again this week as the Steelers visited Baltimore, the only thing that seemed to be in doubt is whether AARP would file a complaint against the Ravens for elder abuse.
Whatever Batch had to eat on Sunday, I want a case of it. Batch threw for 276 yards against the vaunted Ravens' defense and pretty much outplayed Joe Flacco every step of the way. The highlight of the game featured the soon-to-be 38 year-old Batch getting out in front of RB Jonathan Dwyer and running interference on a touchdown run.
The victory deprived the Ravens the opportunity to clinch a playoff spot and kept Pittsburgh in control of its playoff destiny. Big Ben should be back this week when the Steelers host the Chargers (another team packing it in). Everything is pointing toward a week 16 showdown with the Cincinnati Bengals to determine the final AFC Wild Card spot.
This was the week that the pesky young Seahawks were supposed to go away. Having won just one game away from their "12th man" at Century Link Stadium, there was no way they would be able to hang with the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field.
Seattle's own rookie QB phenom, Russell Wilson, was brilliant against the Bears defense, throwing for 293 yards and two touchdowns without turning the ball over. Wilson took the Seahawks 97 yards with 3:40 left in the game for what looked like the game-winning score. After Jay Cutler somehow got the Bears into field goal range to send the game into overtime, Wilson guided the Seahawks on an 80 yard drive to win the game.
If the playoffs started today, Seattle would own the final Wild Card spot. With three of their final four games at home, they've got to be considered favorites to hold that spot.
That the Chiefs were able to focus on football Sunday after going through the preceding 24 hours drama of the murder/suicide involving their former teammate Javon Belcher is a testament to their professionalism. That they won belies their performance all season long.
The Chiefs have invented ways to lose this season. Yet on Sunday, facing surreal circumstances, they mustered a win over the Carolina Panthers who had some momentum coming off their Monday night win in Philadelphia.
Whether or not this becomes a pivotal moment for the Chiefs franchise remains to be seen, and truthfully is rather irrelevant. They deserve mention, however, in any column highlighting the toughness of NFL football teams.
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