The Colts breeze, so it's the Saints' turn to pull out a mini-miracle. The Steelers stumble, the Patriots' road woes continue and the Cowboys lose again in December. Our hot player of the week has 17 tats and think's he's Batman.
By Jim Buzinski
How I saw Week 13 in the NFL:
The Colts and Saints continue to be the most compelling stories in the league. Each team is 12-0, the first time the league has ever had two 12-0 teams. And each week, it seems as if one of them defies the odds by winning a game they easily could have lost.
It was the Saints' turn for a mini-miracle on Sunday. The Colts never trailed in winning an efficient, ho-hum 27-17 over the Tennessee Titans (5-7), which had entered the game on a five-game win streak. The Titans outgained the Colts, but committed two turnovers and went 0-3 on fourth down, including on one series where they had first-and-goal from the Colts' 1. Indy has now won 21 straight regular season games, tying the record held by 2006-2008 Patriots.
|Redskins wideout Devin Thomas|
New Orleans, meanwhile, trailed the Redskins in Washington all game and seemed destined to lose when Shaun Suisham lined up for a chip-shot 23-yard field goal with less than two minutes left and the Skins up by seven. Without timeouts, the Saints would have needed a miracle to come back down 10.
But Suisham inexplicably missed the easy kick and the Saints needed only 33 seconds to drive 80 yards for the tying score that sent the game into overtime. In OT, predictably, the Skins fumbled on their first possession and the Saints drove down to kick a field goal for a 33-30 win.
The Saints and Colts have each had multiple games where they trailed at some point by double digits, yet somehow have rallied to win. The football gods are smiling on both right now, but will both teams stay charmed in the playoffs? That's for later. The question now is can both teams finish 16-0?
The Colts have the tougher schedule: home vs. Denver (8-4), at Jacksonville (7-5 and always a tough game), home to the Jets (6-6 and maybe in the playoff hunt) and at Buffalo (4-8, but who knows what the weather will be like). Denver and Jacksonville pose the toughest challenges.
The Saints, meanwhile, are at Atlanta (6-6 but all banged up and fading), home to Dallas (8-4), home to Tampa Bay (1-11) and at Carolina (5-7). Dallas and Carolina are the toughest games left.
How weird that the Patriots made what was considered improbable history in 2007 when they went 16-0, and now two teams could match that only two years later.
Streaks: After the Colts tied a record with their 21st straight regular season win, Indianapolis Star Bob Kravitz asked various players if they ever won 21 in a row at anything.
"I had my 13-game Madden winning streak broken last Tuesday," safety Melvin Bullitt admitted. "I was playing online. The guy I played was the Raiders. Thirteen straight, but now I'm going to start a new streak. Anybody wants a part of me, I'm 'wildbull33.' "
Said linebacker Gary Brackett: "I think I beat my nephew in Foosball 21 straight times."
Nobody knows anything: What cracks me up are grand pronouncements by so-called football experts in the media, who make predictions weeks in advance. After the Steelers started 6-2, a Sports Illustrated writer predicted that they would not lose the rest of the season. Four straight Steelers losses have made this writer look like an idiot.
This week, I saw several pundits predict that the Steelers and Patriots would run the table and that the Titans would beat the Colts. The Titans fell meekly, while the Steelers lost at home to the Raiders and the Patriots lost in Miami.
The NFL is so unpredictable that picking anything beyond the upcoming week is ludicrous. There is no dominant team (even the Colts and Saints are flawed), which makes the playoffs intriguing. Ignore anyone who makes claims on who will play whom in the Super Bowl right now; they'll just be guessing.
Big loss: The Minnesota VIkings (10-2) fell back to Earth with a thud after being blasted by the Arizona Cardinals, 30-17. The Vikings had feasted on weaklings (Detroit, Seattle and Chicago) the last three weeks, causing some to proclaim them an elite team. I never bought it and wanted to see how they played against a good team. Arizona is good and made the VIkings look bad. Brett Favre threw two interceptions and Adrian Peterson was a non-factor (13 carries, 19 yards). Their secondary got torched by Kurt Warner and his talented receivers, and the Vikes suffered a key loss when middle linebacker E.J. Henderson went out with a gruesome knee injury that might be season-ending.
The Cardinals (8-4) will be a threat in the playoffs. They can clinch the NFC West next week, which ensures a home playoff game. If they win that, they will almost certainly have to play in either New Orleans or Minnesota, both dome teams. The Cardinals in a dome with Warner, Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin are tough. I bet the Vikings don't want to see them again.
Not road warriors: The Patriots inability to win on the road is baffling, but it continued at Miami in a 22-21 loss. The Pats roared to a 14-0 lead, then their offense stalled. Tom Brady threw a killer end zone interception, then another one at midfield that ended the game when he was better off taking a sack. Randy Moss scored on a 58-yard TD pass on the game's first drive, but had only one catch the rest of the way.
The Patriots are 1-5 on the road, with their lone win in neutral London against the crappy Buccaneers. In four of those losses (Jets, Broncos, Colts and Dolphins), the Patriots led at halftime. The Patriots should still win their division and get one home game, but then would likely need two road wins to reach the Super Bowl. CBS would salivate at a Pats at Colts divisional round playoff game.
Collapse: I have no way to explain how the Steelers (6-6) have lost to the Chiefs (3-9) and Raiders (4-8) in the past three weeks. Coach Mike Tomlin promised his team would "unleash hell" this week, which is where Steelers fans want to send their defense, which allowed the punchless Raiders to score 21 fourth-quarter points. The Steelers have blown five fourth-quarter leads this season.
Hot player of the week: Redskins receiver Devin Thomas had a terrific game in the loss to the Saints, with seven catches for 100 yards and two touchdowns. Thomas, 23, is 6-2 and 220 with a pumped bod. He also loves tattoos.
"I have about 17. My favorite is Predator on my ribs, from my favorite movie. I also have a lot of cartoons, like Superman and Batman," Thomas writes on his website.
Thomas is kind of person dieters hate: "I'm a fast food kind of guy, I like hamburgers, pizza, stuff like that. Lately I've been trying to eat more healthy foods like chicken breast and other lean foods, but I have a natural ability to stay in shape."
He also has a high opinion of himself, calling himself his hero: "I look at myself like a superhero. More like Batman, because I can't reveal my true self. People either love or hate you, you can't get everybody to love you. Still, if people don't like you, at least you can show who you are and why you do what you do."
Another December fall?: The Cowboys led the Giants, 10-0, then were outscored 31-14 the rest of the way to lose yet another December game, 31-24. Dallas (8-4) is now 5-11 in December/January since 2006 and the NFC East has really tightened. Dallas and Philadelphia are tied at 8-4, with the Giants at 7-5. The Giants, though, have swept the Cowboys, a big help in any tiebreaker. With games coming up against San Diego (9-3) and New Orleans (12-0), Dallas fans are seeing deja vu all over again.