The Eagles' comeback topped Rob Doster's lesson plan for Week 15.
That’s what the Giants are doing today, after losing in the most heatbreaking, head-scratching fashion in recent NFL history. Rookie Matt Dodge (as in, get the heck outta…) inexplicably punted the ball to the most dangerous return man in the game, DeSean Jackson, who took the ball 65 yards for a touchdown to put the finishing touches on the season’s most epic, most indescribable comeback. In the last 7:18 of the game, the Eagles erased a 31–10 Giants lead thanks to the following: a 65-yard Michael Vick-to-Brent Celek touchdown pass; a recovered onside kick; a four-yard Vick TD run; a 13-yard Vick-to-Jeremy Maclin touchdown; and, most improbably, a line drive punt to Action Jackson on the game’s final play. Sixty-five yards later, hearts were broken throughout New Meadowlands Stadium, and this morning, Joe Pisarcik has company in the history of G-men goats. How stupid and unprecedented was Dodge’s decision to punt to Jackson? It was the first time in NFL history that a game ended on a winning punt return for a touchdown. “That's about as empty a feeling as you get to have in this business,” said Giants coach Tom Coughlin, who took responsibility for Dodge’s mistake — after making it clear that he told Dodge to punt it out of bounds. Adding insult to injury for Coughlin: Bill Cowher listed New York as one of his preferred destinations. Stay tuned.
Who Needs an Appendix?
Only 11 days after an emergency appendectomy, Matt Cassel proved just how useless that piece of tissue is, leading the Chiefs to a key win without it. Cassel produced pedestrian numbers — 15-of-29 for 184 yards, a touchdown and an interception — in the Chiefs’ 27–13 win over the Rams, but his presence provided a jolt of energy for an offense that was utterly putrid last week. “For a guy to come back after having an organ removed from his body, playing the next week, yeah it's definitely extraordinary,” said running back Thomas Jones, who rushed for 62 yards and a touchdown, joining Jamaal Charles (126 yards, including an 80-yard touchdown) in keying a Chiefs rushing attack that produced 210 yards. KC is in position to win the AFC West, and more importantly for the rest of the AFC, deny the red-hot Chargers a spot in the playoffs.
There was a lot to like about Tim Tebow’s debut as a starting NFL quarterback. Tebow displayed improved, NFL-quality passing mechanics, and he proved he could produce on the ground against an NFL defense. He also staked his team to a 14–7 first-quarter lead and a 17–14 second-quarter advantage, before the Raiders realized that it was the Broncos they were playing and won going away, 39–23. “You’re playing against the biggest, strongest, fastest, but at the end of the day it’s still playing football and so it wasn't extremely different,” Tebow said. Here are Tebow‘s numbers: 8-of-16 for 138 yards, a touchdown and no interceptions; 8 carries, 78 yards and a 40-yard touchdown on a called draw to Correll Buckhalter that Tebow mistook for a QB draw. All in all, a solid debut. “He did what we expected of him,” said Brandon Lloyd, who caught Tebow’s TD pass after the ball slid through the hands of an Oakland defender. "He kept his poise, he kept his composure, even when it was tough out there. He didn't have any of those situations where he called the wrong play. I was impressed.” Somewhere, Josh McDaniels was celebrating his protégé’s success, even if he wasn’t there to enjoy it.
The Colts picked a good day to discover their running game — in a 34–24 win over a Jags team that was looking to clinch the AFC South. After weeks of forcing Peyton Manning to go it alone, Indianapolis finally produced some ground support, as Donald Brown ran for 129 yards, including a 49-yard touchdown, showing unexpected between-the-tackles power. Brown vastly outshone his Jags counterpart Maurice Jones-Drew, thanks to a line that out-physicaled its opponent. The defense did its part, too, as the Colts won the war in the trenches. “(The Colts) heard all week how they couldn’t stop our run game and they did a pretty good job,” Jags coach Jack Del Rio said. “They’ve had issues stopping the run against us and against others. They got it done; you’ve got to give them credit.” Suddenly, order is restored in the AFC South, as the Colts control their own destiny in a division they’ve dominated for a decade.
Mike Shanahan Isn’t Stupid
It just seems that way sometimes. Rex Grossman went out and rewarded his coach’s faith in him, throwing for 322 yards and four touchdowns, but it wasn’t enough, as the Cowboys beat their old rivals the Redskins 33–30. Shanahan’s controversial benching of Donovan McNabb was the headline coming in, but Grossman made it a non-issue by producing yards and touchdowns for a formerly dreadful offense, and he might have produced a win had Santana Moss not dropped a sure touchdown. “I thought he demonstrated a lot of poise and played well,” Shanahan said of Grossman. “He performed like a veteran should perform.” Meanwhile, Jason Garrett moves to 4–2 as the Cowboys’ interim coach, and his offense has produced the following point totals: 33, 35, 27, 38, 27 and 33. Get this man a defense, and Jerry Jones might have something.