November 25, 2012
Good Luck spells bad luck for Bills
By KEN FIDLIN, QMI Agency
For a dozen seasons, the Buffalo Bills kept going to Indianapolis every year to face Peyton Manning and the Colts and every time, he would find a way to beat them.
Manning is gone, but the Bills get no relief. The Bills made their first visit of the Andrew Luck era and — guess what? — same results.
In Indianapolis’ 20-13 win, Luck completed 20 of 37 passes for 240 yards and became only the second Colts’ rookie to throw for 3,000 yards in a season. Yes, that other one is Manning.
It was another rookie T.Y. Hilton who stole the show. He ran a punt back for a TD and caught another TD pass from Luck.
For the Bills, who haven’t won in Indy since 1998, this was a bitter pill to swallow. They’ve fallen to 4-7 and that faint hope for a playoff spot is all but gone.
“This one was obviously really needed,’’ quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick said. “I don’t really want to project or talk about the next however many games we have left. It’s all about ‘Go get back to work and try to win next week.’ It’s all we can worry about.’’
With seven wins, Luck is now tied for the most victories in a season by a rookie quarterback selected with the No. 1 overall pick in the common draft era. He also now has 3,205 passing yards, the most in NFL history by a rookie in his first 11 games.
A turning point occurred with Buffalo down seven and the Colts facing a third and 17 at the Bills 32-yard line. Forced to scramble, Luck eventually found Reggie Wayne for a 25-yard gain. Three plays later, the Colts scored their only offensive TD.
JAGS WIN AT HOME? IT’S TRUE
It was a long time coming but the Jacksonville Jaguars finally have a win at home. Chad Henne, starting in place of Blaine Gabbert, threw two TD passes for his first win as a starter since 2010, as the Jaguars beat Tennessee 24-19.
It was Jacksonville’s second win against nine losses and their first in six home games all season.
“It’s good to have something good happen, really good,’’ coach Mike Mularkey said. ‘“They needed that. A lot of people needed that. It was well earned.’’
In the previous five games at home, the Jags had been outscored 153-44
Coming off a bye week, the Titans needed this game to maintain a semblance of a playoff hope. After winning two in a row, Tennessee is now at 4-7 with five games left
“This makes it tougher and tougher to keep your playoff hopes alive when you drop games like this,’’ linebacker Zach Brown said. “We felt like this was a game where we were supposed to win.”
For a team that was playing with a sizeable comfort zone, the Baltimore Ravens responded with the kind of urgency of a team fighting for its playoff life.
Down 10 points with five minutes left in the fourth quarter, the Ravens overwhelmed the San Diego Chargers with 13 unanswered points, including the 38-yard game-winning field goal late in overtime by Justin Tucker.
That game-winner came at the end of a remarkable drive by the Ravens that began on their own 11 yard line with just under five minutes left. It featured two key third-down conversions, including a stunning 31-yard catch by Troy Smith on a third-and-10 pass from QB Joe Flacco.
Earlier, with no time left on the clock in the fourth quarter, Tucker had toed the score with another 38-yarder that forced overtime. A few moments earlier Flacco had completed a four-year TD pass to Dennis Pitta to close the gap to three points.
Coupled with Pittsburgh’s loss at Cleveland, the Ravens, at 9-2, now have a full three-game bulge at the top of the AFC North as they prepare to face the Steelers in Baltimore next weekend.
Meanwhile the San Diego (4-7) defeat drops them almost out of sight of the AFC West first-place Denver Broncos who now lead San Diego by four games. The Broncos now have as many wins (8) as the rest of the four-team division combined.
NINERS QB QUESTIONS ANSWERED
Any quarterback questions now for Jim Harbaugh? Anybody? None? OK, we’re done with this controversy, then.
The San Francisco 49ers coach raised some eyebrows this week, going with rookie Colin Kaepernick over Alex Smith who was cleared to play after suffering a concussion two weeks ago, as the Niners headed into one of the toughest stadiums in the NFL, the Superdome in New Orleans.
All Kaepernick did was manage the San Francisco offence like a 10-year veteran in a convincing 31-21 victory. Neither did it hurt that the Niner defence sacked Drew Brees five times and scored two touchdowns on interception returns.
Kaepernick had played well last weekend in his first-ever NFL start, a 32-7 thumping of the Chicago Bears but, even with Smith cleared to play, Harbaugh decided to stay with the poised second-year Kaepernick, who rewarded his coach’s faith with 231 passing yards, including one TD toss to Frank Gore.
After the Saints had taken a 14-7 lead midway through the second quarter, the Niners scored three consecutive touchdowns. The first came on an Ahmad Brooks 50-yard pick-six that ended the first half. After the Kaepernick to Gore TD early in the third, Donte Whitner picked off another Brees pass and took it 42 yards to the end zone to give San Francisco a 14-point lead.
The 49ers are now sitting easily atop the NFC West, 2.5 games ahead of Seattle. The Saints, who had rallied recently to get back into the playoff conversation, are now a game under .500 and in a tough spot.
SEAHAWKS DUO COULD BE SUSPENDED
The Seattle Seahawks could be without both their starting cornerbacks for the next four games.
According to ESPN.com sources, Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner are both facing four-game suspensions for performance-enhancing drug violations.
The players have tested positive and both are contesting the suspensions, automatic under the league’s drug policy. The appeals are expected to be heard this week.
In their absences, Marcus Truffant and Walter Thurmond would come off the bench as replacements, a step backward for the Seattle defence as they battle to earn an NFL wild card berth. Sherman has four interceptions this season and Browner has three.
In what has turned into the year of the rookie quarterback in the NFL, Arizona Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt was hoping that Ryan Lindley would give the slumping Cards a boost Sunday.
Turns out not every rookie QB has the magic of a Luck or a Griggin or a Tannehill or a Wilson. Lindley, a sixth-round pick out of San Diego State, tossed four interceptions, two of which were returned for touchdowns by Rams corner Janoris Jackson on the way to Arizona’s seventh straight defeat, a 31-17 decision.
With Kevin Kolb expected to miss a couple more weeks with a rib injury and John Skelton playing poorly, Lindley is likely to get the call again next week. The Cards started the season 4-0 but are winless since then.
Lindley did complete 31 of 52 passes for 312 yards but did not throw a TD pass.
Sam Bradford had a pair of 37-yard touchdown passes — to Lance Kendricks and Chris Givens — for the Rams (4-6-1), who snapped a five-game winless streak and beat Arizona (4-7) for the second time this season.