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Offensive muscle proved to be the story of Week 12

Jack Dempsey / Associated Press
Darren McFadden and the Raiders busted out for 31 points in Denver. Can they be a threat to the Pats in two weeks?


Sunday's games started with a touchdown 13 seconds into the action and ended with a winning field goal on the final play of the last game.

It started with Minnesota kicking off to Jacksonville and scoring 14 points in the first 1:41 of the game. The first one came when linebacker Napoleon Harris returned a fumble 27 yards for a score on Jacksonville's first play from scrimmage, 13 seconds into the game. The Jaguars then fumbled away the kickoff and the Vikings scored three plays later.

Remarkable rookies
How impressive is the 2008 rookie class of running backs? Ten rookies have enjoyed at least one 100-yard rushing game this season -- the most ever. Here's the list, broken down by where they were drafted:

Darren McFadden, Oak. (Rd 1, 4th overall)
Jonathan Stewart, Car. (Rd 1, 13th overall)
Chris Johnson, Tenn. (Rd 1, 24th overall)
Matt Forte, Chi. (Rd 2, 44th overall)
Ray Rice, Balt. (Rd 2, 55th overall)
Kevin Smith, Det. (Rd 3, 64th overall)
Jamaal Charles, K.C. (Rd 3, 73rd overall)
Steve Slaton, Hou. (Rd 3, 89th overall)
Tim Hightower, Ari. (Rd 5, 149th overall)
BenJarvus Green-Ellis, N.E. (undrafted)

Speaking of early scores, Detroit scored 17 points and gained 84 yards in the first quarter against Tampa Bay. In the next three quarters, however, the Lions could muster only three points and 123 yards of total offense.

The last time Buffalo visited Kansas City, in 2003, the Bills scored just five points. Five years later, they scored 54 -- the most points ever scored against Kansas City in franchise history. Buffalo QB Trent Edwards ran for two touchdowns -- becoming the first QB to score two touchdowns in a game this season.

In the final game of the day, Adam Vinatieri kicked a 51-yard field goal with no time left for Indianapolis. On fourth-and-inches from just inside San Diego territory, Peyton Manning completed a 14-yard pass to Marvin Harrison. For Vinatieri, it was his 22nd career winning field goal in the final minute of regulation or overtime. For Manning, it was his 35th winning drive in the fourth quarter or overtime.

Week 13 starts with three games on Thanksgiving, and it should be as exciting as Week 12. Here's a deeper look at some of the key games from Sunday:

New York Jets 34, Tennessee 13

The Jets won four games in 2007 and scored 268 points all season. They have already won eight games and scored 55 more points in 2008 than they did in 2007. They also have six more quarterback sacks than they had all last year. The Jets are playing as well as any team in the NFL at this point. In Sunday's game, they held the ball for 40:30 and ran for 192 yards against a Titans defense that had allowed 95 yards per game against the run coming in. The Jets have five more TD passes than they had in all of 2007. Brett Favre is the player who draws the most conversation, but I doubt this team would be this successful without running back Leon Washington. The Jets have won five straight games, seven of their last eight. How much interest would a Jets-Giants Super Bowl generate?

Interesting note: This was just the third game in NFL history featuring two starting QBs with a combined 100,000 career passing yards. One of them, Favre, broke yet another record as he became the first QB to win in 32 different stadiums, passing Dan Marino.

New England 48, Miami 28

When Tom Brady went down for the season on Sept. 7 against Kansas City, two questions were asked: One, what veteran free agent will the Pats sign to replace Brady? Two, will they have a winning season? The first answer: Nobody. The second answer: Yes. And now, most likely, the Patriots are a playoff team. New QB Matt Cassel did something Sunday that only four other quarterbacks have ever done: Pass for 400 yards in his second consecutive game. The first four to do it were Dan Fouts, Phil Simms, Dan Marino, and Billy Volek. In this game, there were seven lead changes before New England pulled ahead for good on the last play of the third quarter. In their first meeting, Ronnie Brown accounted for five TDs in Miami's 38-13 win. Cassel's 415 passing yards is the fifth-best single-game total in Pats history -- Drew Bledsoe has the first four. Cassel is in the final year of a contract that pays him $520,000 this year.

New York Giants 37, Arizona 29

This game featured a battle for MVP candidates and Eli Manning, completing 26 of 33 passes for 240, three TDs and a 127.3 passer rating, moved ahead of Kurt Warner. The Giants played without leading rusher Brandon Jacobs and without Plaxico Burress for all but the opening series of the game. Manning has won 24 of his last 29 stars, and the Giants have won 14 of their last 15 road games. Arizona has become a very difficult place to play because of the crowd noise, and because visiting players aren't used to natural grass indoors. Arizona had a chance to clinch the NFC West; now the Cardinals face the difficult task of winning in Philadelphia with a short week of practice, in a game that will be shown on the NFL Network.

The lead changed five times in a first half that ended in unusual manner. After the Giants punted from their 14-yard line with 11 seconds to play, Arizona called a fair catch and put the ball in play with a free kick. Neil Rackers attempted a 68-yard field goal, which fell short.

The Giants and Cardinals could very well meet again in the second round of the playoffs.

Oakland 31, Denver 10

These teams opened the season on Monday night with the Broncos cruising to a 41-14 win. No Raider had scored more than one touchdown from scrimmage this season before rookie Darren McFadden scored two Sunday to give him a total of three on the year. Another bright spot for the Raiders was the performance of QB JaMarcus Russell, who completed 10 of 11 passes without an interception. The Raiders' defense limited Denver QB Jay Cutler to 16-of-37 and no touchdowns.

Interesting note: New England plays back-to-back games on the West Coast to start off the month of December -- at Seattle and then at Oakland. New England played back-to-back West coast games earlier this season and lost big to San Diego in the second of those two games. If that's an indication, then the Dec. 14 Patriots-Raiders game could be interesting.

Extra points

Arizona's Larry Fitzgerald, with five catches against the Giants, became the second-fastest in NFL history to reach 400 career receptions, getting there in 71 games. Only his teammate, Anquan Boldin, did it faster (67 games). However, Fitzgerald is the youngest to get there (25 years, 119 days). … The Giants became the ninth reigning Super Bowl champion to play a regular-season game the following season at the site of the previous year's Super Bowl -- and the eighth team to win such a game. The only team to lose in that circumstance was Baltimore, which lost at Tampa Bay a year after winning Super Bowl XXXV. … Speaking of Baltimore, Ravens safety Ed Reed broke his own record for longest INT return Sunday when he scored on a 108-yard return. The old record was 106 yards, set in 2004. … When it comes to pass-to-run ratio, the most unbalanced teams are the Colts, who have thrown the ball 177 more times than they've run, and the Eagles (172). … Before he was pulled in Philadelphia's loss to the Ravens, Donovan McNabb committed three first-half turnovers for the first time in his career. … Bears QB Kyle Orton set a franchise record for passes without an interception (185), breaking the old franchise record held by Erik Kramer. … Chiefs TE Tony Gonzalez caught 10 passes for 113 yards, his 25th 100-yard receiving game -- breaking the record for a tight end, which he had shared with Hall of Famer Kellen Winslow. … The Raiders had gone over 200 plays between offensive TDs when McFadden scored in the third quarter. … Michael Turner's four TDs ties a single-game Falcons record. Turner also ran for 117 yards in a huge win over Carolina. … If you are a fantasy player, you might want to add Atlanta rookie WR Harry Douglas, who had two TDs -- one on a running play and one on a punt return. He also caught 4 passes for 92 yards. Atlanta has seven wins and plays Tampa Bay in a crucial home game this week.

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