Originally posted on Helmet2Helmet  |  Last updated 12/6/12
Each week, various members of the Helmet2Helmet forum community — known as Team Ugly (which includes yours truly) — will analyze, criticize, praise, and mock all of the happenings from the prior week of NFL action in their own unique way. Previously: Week 12 | Week 10 | Week 9 | Week 8 | Week 7 | Week 6 | Week 5 | Week 4 | Week 3 | Week 2 | Week 1 Week 13 is now in the books, with an assortment of achievements and ashes to be swept up. Let’s start with the ashes, so we can leave this discussion on a high note. The Saints hopes of a comeback season resulting in a playoff berth took a stiff uppercut in Atlanta. Chicago’s slim lead over the Packers evaporated at home in an OT loss to the Seahawks. The Vikings left Green Bay worse off than when then arrived. The Bucs created more work for themselves by losing in Denver. The 49ers lost a step in St. Louis. The Dolphins dropped to the edge of extinction with a home loss to the Pats. The Giants missed another opportunity to put the NFCE in a stranglehold by dropping one in Washington. You can pretty much shovel dirt over San Diego, Detroit, and any chance the Titans had of playing in week 18. On the bright side, the Pats won the AFCE. The Broncos did the same in the AFCW. The Texans sewed up a playoff spot, strengthened their lead on the #1 seed in the AFC, but have not yet clinched the division. The reason why is Indy, who won in dramatic fashion to start to put the wraps on a playoff spot of their own. Pittsburgh closed on the Ravens for the division, as did Cincy. In the NFC, Atlanta put a lock on the South. Washington and Dallas both closed within a game of the Giants. The Pack caught the Bears in the North, and Seattle not only closed on the Niners, but also put themselves in control of their own playoff hopes. The Rams can still see the playoff pack after their win over the Niners at home. Let’s not forget the Chiefs, who were mathematically eliminated from the playoffs in September, but won an emotional game at home following the suicide of Javon Belcher. Week 13 also gave us a rare “Double Ugly” in the Meadowlands between the Jets and Cardinals. We are still not sure what happened in St. Louis. That leaves us looking ahead to week 14. Games with major playoff implications include the I95 battle between the Ravens and Redskins, the Cowboys visiting Cincinnati, the Bears and the Vikings, and, for seeding, the Texans at New England, the Saints visit the Giants, and the 49ers host the Dolphins . Other games with playoff importance for one team are the Broncos and Raiders (again, for seeding), Rams at Buffalo, Tampa hosting Philly, The Falcons try to take another step in sewing up the #1 NFC seed in Carolina, Pittsburgh hosts San Diego, Indy host Tennessee, Seattle hosts Arizona, the Pack will see the Lions at home, and the Jets, who still have a mathematical shot, visit Jacksonville. Finally, fire up the DVRs to get what may be a last look at a slew of coaches over the last four weeks. That list is too exhaustive to go into here….maybe next week. Until then, let’s give week 13 one last look, GBU style. Good Kansas City Chiefs – What can you say? It isn’t everyday that a team loses a player to a suicide at the stadium, in front of the head coach, the day before the game. After that, we would have been inclined to give the Chiefs a pass had they lost 52-7. Instead, Kansas City played a determined game, probably their best of the season, to secure a 6 point win at home against Carolina. Offensively, they were efficient. Brady Quinn completed 19 of 23 passes, including 2 touchdowns. They ran the ball 43 times, holding the ball for over 37 minutes. Granted, this was not the Steel Curtain, Doomsday, the Super Bowl Ravens defense. But given the myriad of ways the Chiefs could have responded, they stuck to business, played a smart game, and took home an emotional win. For that show of professionalism, they wind up here. Pittsburgh Steelers – It was almost a foregone conclusion, with a slew of injuries and the offense in the hands of 37-year old Charlie Batch. Everybody expected the Steelers chances of capturing the AFCN to end Sunday in Baltimore. Everybody, except Mike Tomlin and the Steelers. Pittsburgh fell behind 13-3 in the second quarter and looked inert on offense, having not gained a first down in four consecutive possessions while suffering an interception. But a funny thing happened on the way to the inevitable loss, Pittsburgh engineered consecutive drives, one to end the first half and one to start the second, tying the score. They then scored ten unanswered in the fourth quarter to secure the win on a game-ending field goal. Batch threw for 276 yards, completing 25 of 37. The Steelers even overcame a pair of interceptions and a fumble en route to the win. The defense held Baltimore under 300 yards with under 200 passing. Somehow, the Steelers turned this into a classic Ravens-Steelers game, and then brought home the win. Given the circumstances, that is worth a slot here. Seattle Seahawks – The 800 lb gorilla on the back of the Seahawks is the lack of quality road wins. That came to an abrupt end Sunday afternoon in Chicago. Seattle played a strong game, but found themselves down 14-10 with the ball at their own 3 with under 4:00 left. In response, they drove 107 yards (despite, but including a holding penalty) in 12 plays. Russell Wilson completed 6 of 9 passes for 77 yards, with the final 14 being on a touchdown pass to Golden Tate. He also scrambled twice for 19 more yards. After surrendering the 3 point lead by allowing the Bears to drive 58 yards in two plays (56 on the initial pass) for a field goal as regulation time expired, the Seahawks opened overtime driving 85 yards over about 7:30, mostly on the ground. By design or scramble, Wilson gained 28 yards, Lynch 19. The drive resulted in a game-ending 14 yard touchdown pass to Sidney Rice. With the game on the line, that translates into 192 yards of offense in 24 of the game’s last 27 plays, holding the ball for 10:43 of the final 11:07. That is more than enough to vanquish the gorilla and land a spot here. Washington Redskins – Landing in a positive column is quickly becoming a trend for the Redskins. Led by another worthwhile performance by the sensational Robert Griffin III, Mike Shanahan’s club pulled off an upset over the Giants and put themselves in prime position for the postseason. The defense repeatedly bent but never truly broke, holding an explosive New York offense to just 16 points. Griffin was more of a game-manager than in recent weeks, and did nothing to lose the game for the team. Once again, fellow rookie Alfred Morris lent a big hand in the victory, chewing up clock and moving the chains with 124 yards on the ground. Don’t look now, but the Skins are only a single game out of first place in the NFC East. Bad Baltimore Ravens – Although the Ravens are assured of making the playoffs, their loss to the Steelers inspired anything but confidence going forward. Usually an excellent home team, Baltimore didn’t give its fans much to cheer about. They totaled just 288 yards, failed to score in the first and fourth quarters and, most notably, allowed the 37-year-old Charlie Batch direct a 61-yard scoring drive in the final moments of the game, giving Pittsburgh a much-needed win. Even with future Hall of Famer Ed Reed still playing at a high level, the Ravens’ secondary is in dire straits. In the NFL, which is largely a passing league, this could be a major problem entering the homestretch of the season. What’s worse is the Ravens’ remaining schedule: Redskins, Broncos, Giants and Bengals, all teams with legitimate passing attacks. John Harbaugh definitely has his work cut out for him. Detroit Lions – The main problem the Lions had in this game is they didn’t win it. Normally, that alone is not enough to get a team perched in the Bad, but it has become a habit. Not just losing, head scratching, table pounding losses. This one epitomizes their season. They lost on an underneath pass that was run into the end zone with :00 left. That despite intercepting Andrew Luck three times. Despite gaining 450 yards on offense. Despite having a 12-point lead with 3 minutes left. The Lions did enough right to win this game. But, they found a way to put it in the loss column….again. New Orleans Saints – Well, they didn’t fumble. Unfortunately, in Atlanta, the Saints wasted 436 yards of offense and a decent defensive performance with five, count them, five interceptions to seal a 23-13 loss. After Atlanta grabbed a quick 7-0 lead, Nawlins responded by driving to the Falcon 37 in four quick plays. Brees then tossed up his first interception at the goal line to end the drive. The Saints were down by 14 when a second interception set the Falcons up for a field goal to extend the lead. New Orleans spent the next 21 or so minutes clawing back to 17-13 before another pick allowed Atlanta to extend the lead back to 7. Brees was then intercepted twice more in the final four minutes while trying to close the final margin. New Orleans probably played well enough to win on a lot of fronts, but could not survive the five interceptions. Whatever was left of the Saints season was on the line here, and it is now officially ashes. Unfortunately, it was not just a loss, it was a Bad way to lose. Ugly Arizona Cardinals – Five first downs. 137 total yards. A completion percentage of less than one third. Less than 22 minutes of possession time. Arizona had as many punts as completions. This team could set offense in the NFL back 60 years all by themselves. They were bad enough to take the sting out of the usual Jets offensive ineptitude. Even the fact the defense played a decent game could not save this performance from landing here. Jacksonville Jaguars — So much for the Chad Henne, the savior. The journeyman quarterback was nothing short of awful against the below-average Bills defense, completing just 18-of-41 passes for 208 yards, one TD and one interception. Despite accruing more first downs than Buffalo, the Jaguars gained just 236 total yards and found the endzone only twice — the latter being a garbage time score. As a whole, Jacksonville is a franchise completely in shambles. The offense can’t score, the defense can’t stop a nosebleed, there’s no franchise QB on the roster, their aging franchise runner remains out with a significant injury and the meddling owner continues to value ticket sales above all else. Fortunately for him, Tim Tebow is coming to town in Week 14, which should bring a few more fans to the stadium. However, a Jets-Jaguars contest certainly won’t be fun to watch … for anybody. New York Jets – Completing the rare “double-ugly” are the Jets. Let’s put it this way: read what little Arizona did on offense, then consider that somehow the Jets eked out a 7-6 win. Not 17-6, not 27-6, not 37-6, but 7-6. Yes, you can say the Jet defense put the stops on Arizona. And they did gain 177 yards rushing. However, they still gained less than 300 yards of total offense thanks to an anemic passing attack, Sanchez threw another three interceptions, and was replaced Greg McElroy who lead the game winning (cough, cough) drive. A win may be a win, but now the Jets have some serious ‘splainin’ to do about who their starting QB is….if they have one. Yes, they won, and yes, it was Ugly. Honors Andrew Luck – Peyton Manning’s successor continues to carve his legend into Indianapolis lore. Luck attempts — let alone completes — passes no other rookie quarterbacks would dare, and is already making throws at a veteran’s level. His final drive to beat the Lions was arguably his finest moment yet. The best is seemingly still yet to come. Cam Newton – Newton has taken a lot of flak this season — much of it well-deserved — but credit where credit’s due: He had a very solid game, recording over 300 yards from scrimmage and three touchdowns. Adrian Peterson – About the only negative thing you can say about AP’s performance this week in Green Bay was it was not enough.On the other side of the coin, we’re not sure how it could be much more. 21 carries, 210 yards and an 82-yard touchdown run. That was still not enough to overcome the rest of the team. Tony Romo – Every week you can pretty much count on Romo being a candidate for an honor or a dishonor. The two-headed quarterback winds up on this slide of the ledger this week, completing 22 of 27 passes for 303 yards, a trio of TDs and no interceptions in a home win over the Eagles. Dishonors Drew Brees – It’s not often you’ll see a future Hall of Famer like Brees in this category, but the Saints’ superstar earned a Dishonor for his five-interception nightmare of an outing against the Falcons. Not only was it Brees’ worst performance in recent memory, it also all but eliminated the Saints from playoff contention. Ndamukong Suh– Another week, another ugly incident and another mention in this column for the troubled Lions lineman. In his latest act, Suh allegedly celebrated the injury of a concussed Colts player. He’s since denied the claims, but considering his very checkered past, it’s entirely possible he’s sunken to these lows. Awards Ciron Black (Best of the Good) – It may not be the most popular or resounding choice, but the Chiefs are sipping on the Ciron this week for reasons that go beyond the football field. To suit up and play a game just 24 hours after an indescribable tragedy speaks to the team’s character. The fact that they won a close game says even more. General manager Scott Pioli and head coach Romeo Crennel, both of whom were first-hand witnesses to Javon Belcher’s suicide, deserve a ton of credit. There’s no denying it’s been a terrible season for the Chiefs, but Sunday provided a huge glimmer of sunlight in the wake of total darkness. Aunt Esther (Ugliest of the Ugly) – There is not much to say here. It is hard to imagine an NFL team being any Uglier than Arizona was against the Jets. With their inexplicably ineffective offense, led by rookie Ryan Lindley, the Cards set the NFL back about 20 years. Esther herself doesn’t describe this utter amount of ugliness. Lone Ranger (Who Was That Masked Man?) – There are a lot of deserving players who carried the load on losing teams. Sorry, AP, the Lone Ranger never rode over the hill to ride back out with his tail between his legs. We liked Romo’s performance, but we don’t think he was the lone reason the Cowboys won. Still, there is some poetic justice to a Cowboy being the Lone Ranger. Same for RGIII this week. That leaves us with Andrew Luck. Without him, there is no doubt the Colts would have been on the losing end. Amber Alert (Greatest Disappearance) – Our milk carton picture this week is none other than Drew Brees. His five interceptions pretty much sealed the fate of the Saints, dropping a very winnable game against the Falcons in Atlanta.
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