NFL Nation: 2010 Week 12 Decisive Moment AFC

AFC East Week 12 decisive moment

November, 30, 2010
11/30/10
1:00
PM ET
NFC Decisive Moments: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

Burn me once? Shame on you.

Burn me twice? Shame on me.

Burn me four times? Pass the aloe.

The New England Patriots were having problems with the Detroit Lions on Thanksgiving afternoon. The Lions were up 24-17 in the third quarter of a back-and-forth contest.

That was until Deion Branch swung momentum. On a third-and-2 play from the Patriots' 31-yard line, Tom Brady dropped back and flung a pass down the left sideline for Branch, who thoroughly beat Lions cornerback Alphonso Smith.

Branch had to slow down for Brady's throw, cradling it at about the Lions' 40-yard line and allowing Smith to catch up. Smith finally got his hands on Branch at about the 25, but the slippery receiver juked out of his grasp.

Branch zigged inside, but Smith had a good angle. So Branch zagged back to the sideline, totally fooling Smith for the third time. Smith doggedly maintained pursuit and got a fistful of jersey at the 5. But Branch broke that tackle, too.

Branch's touchdown went for 79 yards, the longest play of the season for New England, and was the start of a 28-0 run over the final 20:12 of the game.

"I take full responsibility," Smith said. "I'm a thumb pointer. ... I'm never going to point any fingers because the reality of the situation was I pretty much gave the Patriots the whole game. ... Me. I cost the entire city a celebration today because I'm pretty sure everyone was going to celebrate."

AFC South Week 12 decisive moment

November, 30, 2010
11/30/10
1:00
PM ET
NFC Decisive Moments: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

The Jaguars looked to be in good shape with a 20-17 lead over the Giants at New Meadowlands Stadium and 7:20 left in the game. They took possession at their own 26-yard line.

David Garrard hit Mike Thomas with a quick screen, he scooted 23 yards to the 49 and the Jaguars were on the move. But an offensive pass interference call against Kassim Osgood undid the play.

Osgood was in the slot on the same side as Thomas and initiated contact with defensive back Antrel Rolle, who was on him in press coverage. Officials ruled Osgood was blocking Rolle before Thomas caught the pass.

Jack Del Rio objected.

"I need clarification because either I misunderstand the rule or the official did, but one of us was wrong," Del Rio said, per Vito Stellino. "Maybe it's me. I'm going to go back and check the rulebook, but the guy was pressed, we were engaged at the line, he maintained his block. In our opinion, that should not have been a call."

But in re-watching the play, I think the officials got it right. Getting off the jam and blocking are not the same thing. Osgood failed to differentiate the two and it looked like he blocked from the start to me.

If Osgood could have delivered a shove to get off the jam and bought a second before turning into a blocker, the play may have still unfolded in the same way.

Instead, the Jaguars faced a first-and-20 from their 16, quickly stalled and punted the ball back to New York. The Giants then drove for what proved to be the game-winning touchdown.

AFC West Week 12 decisive moment

November, 30, 2010
11/30/10
1:00
PM ET
NFC Decisive Moments: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

How big of a play was Eric Weddle’s 41-yard interception for a touchdown return in the Chargers’ victory at Indianapolis on Sunday night?

It was so big that the folks who run the big screen at Lucas Oil Stadium felt compelled to show it one final time, a full series after the play.

The Colts thought Weddle committed pass interference on receiver Reggie Wayne, who fell right before Weddle caught the pass from Peyton Manning and chugged to the end zone to give the Chargers a 26-14 lead with 8:21 to go in the third quarter. The Colts had a chance to take the lead on the drive, but it ended with the Chargers taking a 12-point lead. San Diego scored the final 10 points of the game after Weddle’s touchdown, taking home a 36-14 victory.

There was contact on the play. But Weddle said the contact was mutual.

“It wasn’t pass interference,” Weddle said. "I’m sure they think it was and they showed on it on the big screen 100 times, but it was a touchdown for us.”

And it was the game-deciding play as well.

AFC North Week 12 decisive moment

November, 30, 2010
11/30/10
1:00
PM ET
NFC Decisive Moments: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

Perhaps there is lucky symmetry when the Pittsburgh Steelers go on the road against AFC East teams this season.

Just when you thought Pittsburgh couldn't get more fortunate than the late Ben Roethlisberger fumble that wasn't on the road against the Miami Dolphins, the Steelers caught an even bigger break this past Sunday against the Buffalo Bills.

Receiver Steve Johnson, who torched the Cincinnati Bengals the week before, suddenly forgot how to catch the football in key moments against Pittsburgh. The biggest was Johnson's wide-open drop in the end zone that would have ended the game in overtime.

Instead, the Steelers were given an opening and closed out the game on kicker Shaun Suisham's 41-yard field goal to improve to 8-3. It was arguably Pittsburgh's ugliest win of the season.

Johnson says he will never be able to forget that play, but the Steelers already have. Pittsburgh is moving on to its biggest game of the year against the Baltimore Ravens (8-3), where the winner has the inside track on the AFC North title.

SPONSORED HEADLINES

Insider

NFL SCOREBOARD

Thursday, 9/18
Sunday, 9/21
Monday, 9/22
WEEKLY LEADERS