Week 11 had something for everyone -- win, lose… or tie.
It started Thursday night with the Jets-Patriots overtime game on NFL Network. Matt Cassel passed for 400 yards and three TDs, including one to Randy Moss with one second in regulation, but lost the coin toss to start overtime and never got the ball before the Jets won it. Three days later, the overtime coin toss meant nothing in a 13-13 tie between Philadelphia and Cincinnati -- the first tie game since Nov. 10, 2002, when Denver and Pittsburgh tied at 34. This was the 17th tie since 1974, when overtime in the regular season started. The Eagles have been involved in four of those, tied with Green Bay for the most among NFL teams.
For the first time in NFL history -- 12,837 games -- we had a final score of 11-10. That was the final in Pittsburgh's win over San Diego, thanks to a booth review that nullified Pittsburgh's defensive touchdown on the game's final play.
Tennessee became the 11th team since 1970 to start 10-0. Nine of the first 10 advanced at least as far as the conference championship game; seven of 10 reached the Super bowl; and five of the 10 won the Super Bowl. Tennessee overcame a 14-3 halftime deficit in Jacksonville with three TD passes from Kerry Collins, who had a total of five TD passes in the first nine games.
Here's a look back at some of the key games from Week 11:
The 96th meeting between these two teams may have been one of the best ever. It was played before 90,830 fans at FedEx Field (note: the first four games of this series, between 1960-62, drew a total of 75,823). When they played earlier this season, the Redskins won in Dallas, 26-24, with Santana Moss catching eight passes for 145 yards. In this game, Terence Newman played man coverage on Moss all over the field and held him to five catches for 29 yards. Newman also had an interception in the third quarter.
Marion Barber ran just eight times for 26 yards in that first game. This time, he ran 24 times for 114 yards and a touchdown. With 6:40 left in the game, the Cowboys took over at their own 37 after stopping the Redskins on a fourth-and-4 play (thanks to Newman defending a pass that was intended for Moss). Barber touched the ball on the next 11 plays -- 10 rushing attempts and a 10-yard pass reception on third-and-8. The last of those 11 plays was a 3-yard run on fourth-and-1 from the Washington 17 with 1:08 left to play. That iced the game, allowing Tony Romo to kneel twice and end it.
In addition to Newman, Barber and Romo, Dallas had many heroes in this game -- perhaps none bigger than rookie tight end Martellus Bennett, who made a terrific catch on the 25-yard go-ahead touchdown pass in the fourth quarter.
The win keeps the Cowboys' playoff hopes alive. In their last six games, they have road games at Pittsburgh and Philadelphia and home games against the New York Giants and Baltimore (the other two are against San Francisco and Seattle). To gain a playoff spot, Dallas needs to win five games. Four wins might get them there, but it's no guarantee because the Cowboys do not currently hold the edge in tiebreakers.
The 175th meeting between these two storied rivals produced the largest margin of victory in the series since 1994. The Bears allowed 427 yards, more than 100 yards above their season average. Their defense didn't have a sack, their wide receivers caught only four passes for 60 yards, and the offense had the ball for less than 23 minutes. The Bears' fourth-ranked run defense allowed 200 rushing yards.
It was a big win for Packers QB Aaron Rodgers, who completed 23 of 30 passes for two TDs, good for a 105.8 passer rating. Rodgers is not flashy but does a great job of getting the ball to the right receiver. Green Bay fans will never forget Brett Favre, who will continue to be a topic of conversation as long as the Jets continue to win. But the Packers made the smart move going with Rodgers -- and a very smart move by signing him through the 2014 season.
Green Bay has three of its final six games at home, but two of the road games are on Monday night (at New Orleans and Chicago). The Packers control their own destiny as far as a playoff spot is concerned.
While San Diego had never won a regular-season game in Pittsburgh, Steelers coach Mike Tomin was 0-7 for his young career in games started in the 4 p.m. ET hour. Something had to give, but it wasn't easy.
It's hard to believe that a team can have a 300-yard passer, 100-yard rusher and 100-yard receiver (which was the case with Ben Roethlisberger, Willie Parker and Hines Ward), and control the clock for 36:31, yet not score an offensive touchdown. But that was the case, as Pittsburgh scored on a safety and three field goals -- the last one from 32 yards out with 11 seconds left to win the game.
Pittsburgh controls its own destiny in the AFC North. It has three home games left, starting Thursday night against Cincinnati on NFL Network. The three remaining road games are all tough -- at New England, Baltimore, and Tennessee.
San Diego is two games behind first-place Denver but has four of its last six at home, including a showdown with Denver in the regular-season finale.
With the win, Tampa Bay remains one game behind Carolina in the NFC South. The Buccaneers would be the first wild card if the playoffs started this week -- they would be the fifth seed in the NFC and travel to Green Bay. The Bucs were able to beat Minnesota because they were able to run against the Vikings' third-ranked rushing defense and control the clock for 34:15. Adrian Peterson rushed for 85 yards in first three quarters but did not have a rushing attempt in the fourth quarter, when the Vikings only had eight plays from scrimmage.
Tampa Bay has three home games remaining, with road games at Carolina and Atlanta (the third road game is at Detroit this week). The Bucs finish the season at home against San Diego and Oakland.
Minnesota would have had a one-game lead it he NFC North with a win. Now the Vikings are in a three-way tie with Green Bay and Chicago. They have three home games remaining and a very tough road game at Arizona. To get into the playoffs, Minnesota most likely has to win its division.
If the playoffs began today, here's how the playoff seedings would look: AFC -- 1. Tennessee; 2. Pittsburgh; 3. New York Jets; 4. Denver; 5. Indianapolis; 6. Baltimore (tiebreaker over New England, Miami and, if they win tonight, Buffalo). NFC -- 1. New York Giants; 2. Arizona; 3. Carolina; 4. Green Bay; 5. Tampa Bay; 6. Washington. ... Atlanta lost at home for the first time this season and rookie QB Matt Ryan threw his first interception at home. Roddy White dropped a pass in the end zone with just over a minute to play that most likely would have won the game. ... Kurt Warner set a Cardinals record with his fourth consecutive 300-yard game. ... Detroit, for the first time this season, scored on its opening drive. ... Peyton Manning completed his 3,702nd pass, passing Fran Tarkenton to move into seventh on the NFL's all-time completion list. ... Matt Stover set an NFL record, making his 372nd consecutive extra point. ... Brandon Jacobs of the Giants ran for 71 yards in the first quarter against Baltimore, which had given up an average of 65.4 rushing yards per game prior to Sunday.