NFL Teams Turn The Calendar To December With Playoffs On Their Mind

By Bryan Mongeau-Eastmond

New York(RushPRnews)12/01/08As the games continue to get more important down the stretch, the big question going forward: Who will find a way to excel during the cold month of December?  For many teams, the last five games can either make you or break you, so you want to be playing your best football at this time of the year.  The New York Giants and Pittsburg Steelers seem to have found the recipe for success and aren’t affraid of a little snow. While the faith of some has already been decided, the future remains uncertain for many. With Week 13 in the books, the playoff picture is far from being unveiled, but it’s starting to take shape.

Vikings 34, Bears 14
It sure seems that Adrian Peterson enjoys playing the Bears. After all, it was just last season that he took apart Brian Urlacher’s defense for 221 yards. The past is in the past, but when it comes in the form of Peterson, it can come back to haunt you. Peterson aka “All Day” ran against the Bears all night. He had 100 yards by halftime and finished with 131 yards and a touchdown.
Vikings receiver Bernard Berrian also did his share of running with a 99-yard touchdown pass from Gus Frerotte. The Vikings (7-5) stand on top of the NFC North, while the Bears (6-6) drop to second.
After surrendering 283 yards and two passing touchdowns in Week 7 at Soldier Field, the Vikings’ defense rolled the dice that Chicago’s quarterback Kyle Orton could not beat them again. The gamble paid off. Aside from a 65-yard touchdown pass to Devin Hester in the first quarter, Orton and his teammates took a backseat and watched Minnesota rack up their second lopsided win in as many games.

Giants 23, Redskins 7
DicksSportingGoods.comThe New York Giants made it clear a long time ago that they are for real. Standing on top of the NFC at 11-1, the Giants have trampled teams by playing smash mouth football and imposing their will on defenses. However, with the league’s best rushing attack dubbed “Earth, Wind and Fire,” teams are not respecting the Giants passing game and undermining quarterback Eli Manning’s growth since last season’s playoff run.
With teams unable to stop or even remotely slow down the ground game, Manning’s strong play has been flying under the radar.
But against the Washington Redskins, the Giants’ offense relied more on the passing game for a change and displayed a balance attack. Manning went to work through the air and got off to a good start scoring on the opening drive with a 40-yard touchdown pass to Amani Toomer.
Manning did a good job spreading the ball and finding the open receiver. Domenik Hixon, Derrick Ward and Toomer, all had over 70 yards on 5 receptions.
Manning finally got his first 300-yard game of the season.
Washington’s Clinton Portis rushed for a season-low 22 yards and left the game repeatedly with nagging injuries. This victory gives the Giants a four-game divisional lead over the Redskins (7-5) with just four games left to play.

Steelers 33, Patriots 10
As hot as New England Patriot’s Matt Cassel has been over the past two weeks, there’s nothing like playing the Pittsburg Steelers and their number one defense to bring you back down a notch.
To the surprise of many, the Patriots (7-5) did a decent job running the ball against a stout defense, but Matt Cassel could not get anything going offensively with Steelers LaMarr Woodley and James Harrison continually applying pressure. Harrison had two sacs and forced two fumbles, both of which were recovered by Pittsburgh. This is the third consecutive game that the Steelers (9-3) allow a messily 10 points on the board.
Cassel was 19-for-39 for 169 yards and no touchdowns against Pittsburgh after throwing for at least 400 yards in his past two games.
The Patriots did put up a fight up until halftime, but 5 turnovers proved to be too much and resulted into 30 unanswered points for Steelers. Ben Roethlisberger went 17-of-33 for 179 yards with a touchdown pass to Santonio Holmes and Hines Ward.
With this win, Pittsburg holds the number 2 seed in the AFC.

Broncos 34, Jets 17
Sloppy weather conditions favored Denver in a big way. Steady rain, gusts of wind, nothing was going to extinguish the Broncos’ high flying offense, which suddenly decided to put it all together. Denver’s head coach, Mike Shanahan did an excellent job preparing his team for the surging Jets. The Broncos (7-5) were able to both pass and run the ball effectively as they knocked Favre and company off their high horses following a big win against Tennessee last week.
Rookie Peyton Hillis rushed for a career-high 129 yards and a toucdown becoming the first running back this season to gain over 100 yards against New York’s third-ranked run defense. On the other side, Thomas Jones also had a good day on the ground with 138 yards and two touchdowns, but it was not enough. As usual, Favre made a few ill-advised throws, but it was the receiving corps that dashed this team’s hope at a possible comeback.
The Jets (8-4) snapped a 5-game win streak, but maintain a one-game lead in the AFC East over New England and Miami despite the loss.

Panthers 35, Packers 31
How many times are the Green Bay Packers going to come up short in games that they desperately need to win in order to keep their playoff hopes alive? Seriously, this team does not respond well in the face of adversity; not on the road and not at Lambeau Field.
The Carolina Panthers got off to a good start and quickly jumped to a 21-10 lead at halftime.
Then, to the delight of Green Bay’s loyal fans, momentum shifted in favor of the home town team. Suddenly in the groove of things, the Packers jumped in front 31-28 late in the game.
However, the Panthers (9-3) capitalized on the Packers’ meltdown in the final minutes of play to squeak out of snowy Green Bay with the win. Delhomme connected with receiver Steve Smith for a 54-yard pass play to set up first-and-goal on the Green Bay 1 yard line, with under two minutes to play. Panther’s running back DeAngelo Williams did the rest to seal the victory. Delhomme went 12-of-17 for 177 yards. His numbers were not particularly spectacular in this one, but then again, what is when the person you hand the ball off to scores four touchdowns. No question that Williams came ready to play as he continues his dominance late into the season.

49ers 10, Bills 3
After scoring a season high 54 points in Kansas City last week, the Bills were held to only 3 points. Different game, different story. It just wasn’t their day to say the least. Edwards went 10-of-21 for 112 yards before being replaced by J.P. Losman for the start of the second half due to a sore groin.
Losman did what every QB should when thrown into the game without warning: hand the ball off. Though predictable, it worked as Marshawn Lynch piled up 134 rushing yards. Though they moved the ball successively, the offense failed to reach the end zone.
The game’s lone touchdown came in the first quarter when 49ers QB Shaun Hill connected with veteran Isaac Bruce. Bruce might have lost a step over the years, but his hands are still his bread and butter. The 49ers (4-8) gave head Coach Mike Singletary his second win since taking over.
The Bills (6-6) lost for the fifth time in six games and continue to dig a hole after a brilliant start to the season.

The action continues on Sunday.  Look for our update, right here at RushPRnews.

Photo courtesy of the National Football League

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