Greatness On The Road  

Marriott  

Colin Kaepernick keeps San Francisco 49ers on winning track

  • By Jim Reineking NFL.com
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It's tough to win on the road, it's even more impressive if it's done while making a second career start in a building known as one of the most difficult on opposing passers.

Greatest on the road ...

Colin Kaepernick, San Francisco 49ers

It's extremely rare that a Super Bowl contender switches quarterbacks while in the midst of a late-season run toward the postseason. Kaepernick's first start was stellar; impressive enough to earn the second-year quarterback the confidence of coach Jim Harbaugh to start against what was one of the NFL's hottest teams entering Week 12 in one of the most difficult places for opposing teams to play -- the Superdome.

A look at Kaepernick's NFL debut, which also occurred in the Superdome -- in Week 1 of the 2011 preseason -- just shows how far the quarterback has come in a short period of time. Kaepernick threw two interceptions and fumbled twice (though both were recovered by teammates) as the Saints steamrolled the 49ers. Fast forward more than 15 months later, and Kaepernick prevented those costly mistakes against the Saints as the 49ers claimed a 31-21 victory.

Kaepernick threw for a score and ran for another in the win, after which Harbaugh will undoubtedly face another week of evaluation in the 49ers' ongoing quarterback quandary.

Also considered:

Robert Griffin III, Washington Redskins

While a visit to Cowboys Stadium for the Dallas Cowboys' annual Thanksgiving feature might have been a road game for the Redskins, it was a homecoming of sort for RG3, who grew up in the state of Texas (Copperas Cove) before attending Baylor University.

RG3 threw for three touchdowns as the Redskins built a 28-3 halftime lead, then threw for a fourth score to help Washington earn a 38-31 win. The four-score performance was the second straight such effort from RG3, who became the first rookie with consecutive games with four or more passing touchdowns in NFL history. More importantly, after the Redskins' first-ever win on Thanksgiving, the team has renewed hope in the postseason chase.

Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers had won four consecutive games entering Week 12, and many figured the matchup with the division-leading Falcons would be a statement game for the hosts. In a game that had six lead changes, it was the final one that gave Atlanta the 24-23 win and a 10-1 record.

Ryan overcame two critical turnovers to lead the late-game charge to halt the Buccaneers' four-game run. Ryan led the Falcons' fifth fourth-quarter rally for victory this season, and finished the day with 353 yards passing. Ryan now has 22 game-winning drives since entering the NFL in 2008, which is more than any other quarterback during that timeframe and more game-winning drives than any quarterback in their first five seasons since 1960.

Follow Jim Reineking on Twitter @jimreineking.

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