- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 24, 2009

STORY OF THE WEEK

On a Sunday when New Orleans and Indianapolis each went to 10-0, there also was reason for a few of the NFL’s dregs to rejoice.

Kansas City returned the opening kickoff for a touchdown, fell behind by 10 points and then rallied to stun defending Super Bowl champion Pittsburgh 27-24 in overtime. In improving to 3-7, the Chiefs won consecutive games for the first time since 2007.

However, the Chiefs didn’t escape the AFC West cellar because the Raiders also pulled off an improbable upset. Oakland (3-7) tied its game against Cincinnati on a touchdown pass from Bruce Gradkowski to Louis Murphy with 33 seconds left and recovered a fumble on the ensuing kickoff. Sebastian Janikowski then kicked a game-winning field goal to shock the AFC North leaders.

While Kansas City and Oakland knocked off contenders, Detroit won Sunday’s wildest game, beating fellow cellar-dweller Cleveland 38-37. Matthew Stafford, the No. 1 pick in April’s draft, became the first rookie in 62 years to throw five touchdown passes in a single game. His last TD pass to Brandon Pettigrew on the final play gave the Lions just their second victory in their last 33 games. Stafford also passed for 422 yards, the most by a rookie in team history. The defeat dropped the Browns to 1-9, who got four touchdown passes from former first-rounder Brady Quinn.

TEAM OF THE WEEK

MINNESOTA VIKINGS

With the Saints on near auto-pilot and the Colts winning close ones to also remain perfect, the Vikings haven’t been under the microscope as much. So Minnesota’s Week 7 loss to Pittsburgh has been a bit of a blessing.

Behind the young legs of Adrian Peterson, the 40-year-old arm of Brett Favre and a terrific defensive line, Minnesota is cruising to a second straight NFC North title and a conference championship showdown with New Orleans.

Maybe it’s predestined for Mississippi native Favre, who won his only Super Bowl in nearby New Orleans, to try to reach another in the Superdome come January’s NFC championship game.

FIVE TRENDS FROM WEEK 11

UP: It sure wasn’t easy, but the Giants won for the first time in five games, edging the visiting Falcons 34-31 in overtime after blowing a 14-point fourth-quarter lead. Defending NFC East champion New York (6-4) remained a game behind division leader Dallas with a Dec. 6 visit by the Cowboys looming.

DOWN: Back in September, when all was dreamy in the worlds of rookie coach Rex Ryan and rookie quarterback Mark Sanchez, the Jets pulled off a 16-9 upset of AFC East rival New England. On Sunday, New York fell behind 24-0 in the second quarter and never got close in a 31-14 loss that dropped the Jets to 4-6. Sanchez threw four interceptions in the loss.

UP: Five weeks ago, the idea of San Diego winning the AFC West was preposterous. Leading the division at Thanksgiving was unimaginable. But that’s where the Chargers (7-3) are after crushing the Denver Broncos (6-4) 32-3 on Sunday for a fifth straight victory. A third straight AFC West title seems likely.

DOWN: As the Chargers have been rising, the Broncos have been falling. Denver’s four consecutive double-digit defeats have come by an average of 20 points. The Broncos were supposed to be rebuilding under rookie coach Josh McDaniels, but their unexpected 6-0 start makes their current crash that much more disappointing.

Story Continues →