The Fifth Down  

Jack Ryan (Paramount)  

NFL showcases great 'bad weather' games in Week 14

There are some very vocal opponents to football, and in particular, Super Bowl XLVIII, being played in the snow and cold. You can find them in most bars across America, as well as in the national sports media:

Maybe I'm biased having spent my childhood in Wisconsin, but I love this type of weather for football. It tests the mettle, creativity and fundamentals of every team when forced to play in these conditions. Some of the most iconic games in NFL history were played in adverse conditions. So what did Week 14 give us, with nine games being played in cold weather, and four of them featuring varying degrees of snow? Arguably the most exciting day of football in the 2013 season. So let's break down the madness that swept across the country in the form of NFL football on Sunday -- it's Fifth Down.

So we meet again...

I'm not sure if you've heard this yet, but the San Francisco 49ers and Seattle Seahawks don't like each other. Well, they met on Sunday for the sixth time in the Harbaugh-Carroll rivalry in another old-fashioned slugfest with the 49ers coming out on top. 49ers fans should really thank Frank Gore for icing the win. If you watch his 51-yard run again, you'll see him seemingly collapse to avoid a hit before going out of bounds. But that is what's important -- he stayed in bounds. Gore allowed the time to keep ticking as the 49ers inched closer for the go-ahead field goal. Pretty smart stuff. OK, sure, congrats to Brent Celek for pulling the same move as well. Although Celek's snow slide looks way cooler than Gore's collapse.

Superstars > Snow

Speaking of snow, it was without a doubt the story of the day. As I mentioned above, there are those that think snow damages the quality of the NFL product. But, when it comes down to it, the best players will rise above the worst conditions. Did you see Jeremy Ross return that punt (and later that kickoff) for a touchdown against the Philadelphia Eagles? How about Matt Flynn and Peyton Manning slinging the rock with their "weak" arms in the cold? Or LeSean McCoy setting the Eagles' franchise record with 217 rushing yards in a single game? Just several shining examples of how football can be as great outdoors as it is indoors. Keep it coming, NFL.

Fourth quarter frenzy

Did you catch the absolutely ridiculous finish to that game between the Minnesota Vikings and the Baltimore Ravens? There were four touchdowns scored in the final 2:09. No, that's not a typo. You can see for yourself with the video to the right. My sympathy goes out to the hearts of Ravens fans across the nation, as that much back-and-forth drama could not have been easy on the old ticker.

Flynn-sanity returns!

After laying an absolute egg on Thanksgiving in a blowout loss to the Detroit Lions, Matt Flynn and the Green Bay Packers found enough of an Aaron Rodgers-less groove to dispatch the Atlanta Falcons at Lambeau Field and remain in the playoff hunt. The NFC North race is going to be one to watch down the stretch, as the Lions, Bears and Packers are all very much alive with three games left to play. None of that is as interesting as the ridiculous pick-six that Flynn threw right before half. According to the Falcons, they practice the "kick drill" at least once a week in practice.

Chargers fans clearly have no hard feelings toward Eli Manning


OK, so maybe they are a little bitter about how Eli jilted them during the 2004 NFL Draft.

Sideline karma

The Pittsburgh Steelers desperately needed a win over the Miami Dolphins to keep their postseason hopes alive. It was a back-and-forth contest, and the Steelers' season essentially came down to the final play of the game. They lateralled it between every body except Mike Tomlin, with Antonio Brown eventually getting the corner and sprinting into the endzone. Or, so the Steelers thought. One week after Mike Tomlin pulled this stunt on the edge of the field, the sideline came back to bite them.

Fantasy Football sacrificial lamb of the week:

Speaking of Steelers-Dolphins, this was the first time Mike Wallace faced his former team as a Dolphin. I'm sure Wallace wanted nothing more than to torch the Steelers secondary for 200-plus yards and a few touchdown receptions. Unfortunately for Wallace, he only caught two of his five targets for 19 yards. But, more importantly, he helped the 'Fins stay in the playoff race and effectively ended the Steelers' season. Too bad for fantasy owners, but Wallace's paltry 1.9 fantasy points may have also ended many of their seasons as well.

- Follow Alex on Twitter @AlexGelhar. All he wants for Christmas is a few more Twitter followers, and an official Red Ryder, carbine action, two-hundred shot range model air rifle!

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