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The (Monday) Morning After: Winning beltways

NEED TO KNOW
  • Cowboys win during emotional weekend; Redskins pick up big victory in local rivalry
  • Giants stay on top; Bears, Steelers falter
The Washington Redskins defeated the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday.

Every week, the women at HerGameLife.com bring you the highlights, lowlights, and good fights from the weekend in pro football. HerGameLife is the premiere online destination for ladies who love sports, featuring football news from a female perspective, game day fashion and recipe ideas.

Cowboys 20, Bengals 19. There are 3,600 seconds of regulation time in an NFL game. The Cowboys needed 3,597 of those seconds to clinch an emotional victory against a Bengals team that was on the prowl for an elusive wildcard playoff spot. The Bengals controlled the game early, but the weight of grieving a fallen teammate and a Bengals “home” stadium full of Cowboys fans propelled Dallas to a fourth-quarter resurgence and a Bengals’ team collapse.  Playing just one day after learning about the tragic death of their teammate, Jerry Brown, the Cowboys pulled together to keep hopes and dreams alive for their season and pay respects to a young man whose life ended too soon.  --Valencia @ChocLadyBengal

Redskins 31, Ravens 28. In the "Battle of the Beltway" between the Washington Redskins and the Baltimore Ravens, the Ravens ran out of gas. Down eight with 4:47 left in regulation, Washington Redskins backup rookie QB Kirk Cousins entered the game for the injured Robert Griffin III. Cousins would tie the game with a touchdown pass and a two-point conversion with 29 seconds left. The Redskins then won it in overtime as Richard Crawford's 64-yard punt return set up Kai Forbath's game-winning 34-yard field goal. Despite falling to 9-4, the Ravens still sit atop the AFC North. But, with the Denver Broncos and New York Giants coming to town, the road ahead is congested. -- Crystal @rvngirl

Jets 17, Jaguars 10. When a team struggles to pull off a win against a 2-9 bottom dweller, the ugly result is of small comfort. That’s Mark Sanchez’s reality at the moment: He quarterbacked the victorious team, but looked at himself in the locker room mirror with the knowledge that he fumbled in the first quarter and threw for a grand total of 111 yards. That’s because coach Rex Ryan seemed today to settle his three-ring quarterback controversy by simply eliminating the quarterback position. The Jets won on the run, and the Jaguars, by virtue of being the Jaguars, consistently failed to capitalize. In the meantime, Tim Tebow and Greg McElroy made for a fetching set of matching bench ornaments. -- Mary Beth Ellis @blondechampagne

Packers 27, Lions 20. With snow blowing across Lambeau Field, the Detroit Lions started out as fierce as the weather. With 12 plays for 80 yards to start and touchdowns in the first and second quarters, Detroit dominated the first half of the game. Matthew Stafford’s fumble just before halftime, however, shifted the ball and the momentum right into the arms of Packers defensive end Mike Daniels, who ran it in to put points on the board for Green Bay.  The skies cleared up in the second half, as did Aaron Rodgers and his offense, enough to keep Detroit from breaking their 22-game losing streak at Lambeau Field.  -- April Scarlett @ajscarlett

49ers 27, Dolphins 13. Rookie QB Colin Kaepernick found a wide-open lane for a 50-yard TD run to hook the Fins by the tail. However, Miami did have their chances in this one. A sweet, diving TD catch by Anthony Fasano cut the deficit to 20-13. But, earlier in the game, the Dolphins handed the 49ers an early Christmas present in the end zone and Miami never recovered. Ryan Tannehill could not convert on the last possession, assuring that the Dolphins will not have a winning record for the fourth season in a row.  -- Julia Chongarlides @j_chonga22

Rams 15, Bills 12.  Last-minute heroics lifted the Rams over the Bills. Rams quarterback Sam Bradford threw a touchdown to Brandon Gibson with 48 seconds remaining to spearhead the victory. The Bills were unable to capitalize on their last possession with quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick throwing an interception. Unfortunately the Bills have likely fallen out of playoff contention with the loss, falling to 5-8. The Rams, on the other hand, have won three straight for the first time since 2006 and hope to continue that trend in the final weeks of the season! -- Lahari @Lahari_S

Eagles 23, Buccaneers 21. Philadelphia Eagles rookie quarterback Nick Foles silenced a lot of doubters as he completed pass after pass, including an incredible one-handed catch made by receiver Jason Avant. The Buccaneers defense couldn't seem to navigate through the sea of the Eagles offense, made up almost entirely of second- and third-string players. Vincent Jackson and rookie running back Doug Martin came up big with a combined 317 yards and two touchdowns for the Bucs. But it was Eagles wide receiver Jeremy Maclin who sent the Buccaneers' ship sailing when he scored a touchdown with zero seconds left in the fourth quarter to seal the win. – Alexis Aarons @AlexisAarons

Colts 27, Titans 23. The energy and noise level at Lucas Oil Stadium on Sunday was unbelievable for the entire 60 minutes of play. The Titans' biggest play came in the second quarter when linebacker Will Witherspoon intercepted Andrew Luck, running it back for a TD. After a slow first half, the Colts entire team (especially the defense) came out to play. And play hard they did. The game-changer for the Colts happened when Indy punter Pat McAfee set the Titans up on the 1-yard line with only a few minutes left in the third. Colts cornerback Cassius Vaughn then intercepted the ball and made a short trip to the end zone for an Indy TD. The win puts Indianapolis one step closer to a wildcard playoff spot. -- Megan Fitzjarrald @megfitzjarrald

Browns 30, Chiefs 7. It’s not often that the Cleveland Browns win three in a row, but they did, after defeating the Kansas City Chiefs by a final score of 30-7. Despite winning an emotional game last Sunday, the Chiefs couldn’t overcome Cleveland’s surging offense. Jamaal Charles scored on an 80-yard run on the first play of the game, but the Chiefs failed to score after that. Quarterback Brady Quinn and running back Peyton Hillis returned to Cleveland for the first time, but they both failed to put up big numbers. Cleveland proved that they are an improving team, winning their third straight game and fifth in the last eight games. Running back Trent Richardson led the Browns with two touchdowns on the ground. --Terra Carlson @terrac33

Giants 52, Saints 27.  When the Saints go marching in, the Giants go marching out with a win. The New Orleans Saints' slim playoff chances were officially doused on a rainy evening in New York with a necessary victory by the home team. The New York Giants improved to 8-5 clinging to the top spot in the NFC East. The defending Super Bowl champs took an early lead at the end of the first quarter and never looked back.  It was a disappointing showing for the Saints' special teams and a consistently inconsistent defensive line was put to the test by rookie RB David Wilson, who ran for 327 all-purpose yards.  Eli Manning threw a season-high four touchdown passes, a reassuring performance after two difficult weeks. – April @SophieAD26

Vikings 21, Bears 14. For the second time in three weeks, division rivals Minnesota and Chicago faced off, this time at the Vikings’ Mall of America Field.  Based on the lack of intensity from the Bears, perhaps the time would have been better spent holiday shopping at the mall rather than playing the game.  Vikings head coach Leslie Frazier stated the game plan was to have Adrian Peterson run the ball, then run the ball again. AP executed this to perfection with more than 150 yards and two touchdowns. While the Vikings intended to be a one-dimensional offense, the Bears were forced to continually use Brandon Marshall largely due to the unstoppable play of Jared Allen. As Minnesota appears to be surging, injuries are mounting for Chicago, causing a serious downward skid. -- Laurie Pechie @lpechie

Chargers 34, Steelers 24. So that's how it feels to be electrocuted. The Steelers had been the ones electrifying the Chargers the last 14 meetings at Heinz Field, not allowing a single win. And with the anticipated return of Big Ben, this Sunday’s game should have been no different. But the Chargers’ defense turned up the voltage and shocked the Steelers into a double-digit deficit early in the game that they couldn’t recover from – even with Mike Wallace’s 112 receiving yards and two touchdowns. Chargers QB Philip Rivers, threw for 200 yards and three touchdowns and had no interceptions. The Chargers may not be set up for a postseason, but they made sure the Pittsburgh Steelers will still have to fight for their spot after this disappointing loss. -- Jenna Farmer @jenna732

Panthers 30, Falcons 20. The Carolina Panthers sought revenge against NFC South rival Atlanta Falcons on Sunday in Charlotte’s Bank of America Stadium. With a record-setting performance from Cam Newton and a defensive interception down the stretch, the Panthers got the 30-20 victory. As the playoffs approach, the skepticisms of Matt Ryan’s “choke gene” seemed to have started creeping up again. Superman and his team of bandits proved just how rocky the NFC South is. Taking a W from the top division leader also proved that Cam “still can.” Superman still has his cape and a bag of tricks to go along with the final games of this season. – Brit Roper

Seahawks 58, Cardinlas 0. The touchdown fireworks went off so many times at CenturyLink Field on Sunday that there was a constant haze of smoke covering the crowd. In a performance so lopsided it resulted in a score more fitting for a basketball game, the Seattle Seahawks beat the Arizona Cardinals by 58 points, the largest margin in team history. Seattle running back Marshawn Lynch scored three touchdowns, while the Seahawks’ defense had more takeaways than a Wal-Mart sale on Black Friday. Arizona’s eight turnovers included four interceptions thrown by quarterback John Skelton. Although both teams brought in backup quarterbacks in the second half, Seattle’s scoring frenzy continued, making yet again why they are undefeated at home. This one, however, had an exclamation point at the end. -- Jenny Goos @jennygoos

HGL Crystal Ball:

Texans vs. Patriots. This one is for all the marbles. In a possible AFC title game preview, the 11-1 Texans will take on the 9-3 Patriots in a battle for AFC dominance. In many ways, this is the perfect matchup. The (Tom) Brady Brunch has the top offense in the NFL in points per game and the Texans are No. 2.  The Texans haven't lost on the road this year. The Pats don't lose at home in December. Regardless of the stats, this should be an all-out war. With both offenses proving their ability to find the end zone, this will be a defensive slug fest. Either way the marbles drop, strap on your seatbelt and get ready for a wild AFC ride on Monday Night. – Morgan Gaskin @LetsGeauxMeaux

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