NFL Players Who Delivered in Week 15
With Matt Shaub at the helm for a second game, Andre Johnson had a career-high 207 yards receiving and a touchdown as the Texans pulled off a 13-12 upset victory over the Titans, clouding the AFC playoff picture.
With Marion Barber still banged up, the Cowboys turned to the rookie out of Georgia Tech to bolster their running attack. In quick bursts, Tashard Choice picked up 91 yards on nine carries, including a fourth quarter, 38-yard touchdown run that put the Cowboys out of reach. He also led the squad with 52 yards receiving.
The Cowboys' linebacker sacked Eli Manning on the Giants' first snap Sunday night, setting the tone for a defense that suffocated the New York passing attack. In all, Ware notched three of Dallas' eight sacks, upping his league-leading total to 19 this season.
For most of Indy's game against Detroit, the Lions did a solid job covering the Colts' wide receivers. Unfortunately for Detroit, that left tight end Dallas Clark wide open across the middle. Clark finished with 12 receptions, a single-game franchise record for tight ends, 142 yards and a touchdown. He broke his single-season record for receptions by a tight end and set a career high with 684 yards.
Playing for an injured Joseph Addai, Dominic Rhodes ran 20 times for 86 yards and two touchdowns, including the winner with 8:39 left. Rhodes also caught four passes for another 30 yards as the Colts improved to 10-4 on the season.
With Daunte Culpepper suffering from a shoulder injury, Dan Orlovsky took over the reins for the Lions, and found a favorite target in Calvin Johnson. The 6-5 wide receiver had a season-high nine catches for 110 yards and a touchdown, but Detroit still fell 31-21.
Steve Smith torched Broncos rookie cornerback Josh Barrett, catching nine passes for 165 yards and a touchdown. It was Smith's fourth-consecutive 100-yard receiving game (and seventh in his last nine), and it came at an important time for the Panthers, who clinched the NFC South with a 30-10 win.
Trailing 21-3 in the third, Philip Rivers led three scoring drives down the stretch, keeping the Chargers' (6-8) slim playoff hopes alive. Boasting an NFL-best 102.0 passer rating, Rivers was 34-for-48 for 346 yards and two touchdowns Sunday in the 22-21 thriller.
Down 21-7 late in the third quarter, Chicago native Pierre Thomas ignited the Saints' comeback with a 42-yard touchdown run. For the game, Thomas rushed for 87 yards, while also adding 59 yards and a second touchdown receiving.
Less than a week after his father died, Cassel picked apart the Raiders, completing 18 of 30 passes for 218 yards and a career-high four touchdowns. With the 49-26 win, the Patriots remained locked in a three-way tie atop the AFC East.
In a game where almost everything worked for the Patriots' offense, Randy Moss stood out not just for his play, but for his antics against his former team. Moss caught five passes for 67 yards and two touchdowns Sunday, and pointed to the name on the back of his jersey after each score, as if the fans in Oakland didn't remember him.
Sammy Morris and LaMont Jordan
Like the Panthers last week, the Patriots turned to a two-headed running attack Sunday. Sammy Morris (center) ran 14 times for 117 yards and a touchdown, and LaMont Jordan (right) added 97 yards of his own, including a 49-yard touchdown scamper.
Turner ran for 152 yards and a touchdown on a career-high 32 carries, picking up big chunks of real estate as the Falcons eked out a 13-10 overtime win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. It was Turner's seventh 100-yard rushing game of the season.
Playing in place of the injured Gus Frerotte, Jackson threw for four touchdowns, and the Vikings beat the Cardinals 35-14 to stay alone atop the NFC North. The four scores are especially impressive considering Jackson did it all on just 17 throws.
Peterson rushed for 165 yards on 28 carries, his franchise record ninth 100-yard game of the season for the Vikings (9-5), who won their fourth in a row. In the process, Peterson broke Minnesota's single-season rushing record with two games to play.
After catching nine passes for 200 yards in last week's loss to Carolina, Bryant turned in another big game in Week 15. Bryant notched his fifth 100-yard receiving game of the season, hauling in eight catches for 108 yards and a touchdown.
Down 14-3 in the first quarter, the Bills turned to their running back to get them back into the game. Lynch gobbled up big chunks of yards against a Jets defense that looked incapable of stopping him, running for 127 yards on 21 carries. Still, the Bills couldn't overcome the early deficit, and fell 31-27.
For the second consecutive week, Big Ben helped led the Steelers to a fourth quarter comeback against one of the NFL's elite teams. Down 9-6 heading into the fourth, Pittsburgh marched 92 yards for the game's only touchdown. Roethlisberger was 7-for-11 for 89 yards on the drive, which he capped with a four-yard scoring pass to Santonio Holmes.
The second-year wide receiver had far and away his biggest game of the season Sunday, notching four catches for 132 yards in the Packers' 20-16 loss. Jones' previous best game of the season was a four catch, 29 yard effort in Week 2.
Abraham had three big sacks in the Falcons' overtime win Sunday, including a possession-ending takedown in the extra period. "This will be a fun game to sit down and watch on film," said Abraham, who had his third three-sack game of the season, giving him 15 1/2 overall.
David Gerrard found Dennis Northcutt for a 41-yard gain, ending a dubious distinction: the Jags had been the only NFL team without a pass play of at least 40 yards. For the game, Northcutt caught five passes for 127 yards and a touchdown (his first 100-yard game and touchdown of the season).