NFL Nation: 2010 Week 14 Decisive Moment

NFC South Week 14 decisive moment

December, 14, 2010
12/14/10
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NFC Decisive Moments: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

Tampa Bay's Raheem Morris took a lot of heat for his coaching last year. The flip side is he now deserves a ton of credit for the Buccaneers' getting to 8-5 this season.

Morris is a Coach of the Year candidate because he has turned the Bucs around, and part of that turnaround has been his ability to lead the team decisively. Morris is playing to the strength of his team, which is quarterback Josh Freeman.

The latest example came in Sunday's victory at Washington. With the Redskins leading 10-9, Morris and underrated offensive coordinator Greg Olson decided to let Freeman take a deep shot. He threw a rocket to tight end Kellen Winslow for a 41-yard touchdown with 3 minutes and 47 seconds left in the game. That gave Tampa Bay a 15-10 lead and what happened next came with absolutely no hesitation.

Without even flinching, Morris decided to go for the two-point conversion and, once again, he and Olson went with their strength. They had Freeman keep the ball, and he simply dragged a couple of Redskins into the end zone to put the Bucs up 17-10.

The Redskins moved down the field and scored a touchdown. They brought on their kicking unit for the extra point, but the snap sailed through the holder's hands.

The Bucs had a 17-16 victory, and Morris' decision to go for the two-point conversion, which was really the only call at the moment, looked even better at the end.

NFC East Week 14 decisive moment

December, 14, 2010
12/14/10
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NFC Decisive Moments: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

DeSean Jackson had just caught a short pass along the sideline and turned it into a 91-yard touchdown to give the Eagles a 27-20 lead early in the fourth quarter. The Dallas Cowboys needed to answer; on the next play from scrimmage Jon Kitna dropped back and tried to hit Roy E. Williams on an out pattern. Eagles cornerback Dimitri Patterson closed on the ball and had an easy interception before stepping out of bounds at the Cowboys' 33-yard line.

The interception set up another David Akers field goal, and I thought it was a pretty decisive moment in this game. Williams had the best season of his NFL career when he was playing with Kitna in Detroit. He's talked in the past about the great chemistry he had with the quarterback. But Williams has once again become a non-factor in this offense.

Kitna delivered the ball to where he thought Williams would arrive, but the big wide receiver stumbled coming out of his break. By turning the ball over at that point, the Cowboys dug too deep a hole to overcome. Kitna showed some resolve in making it 30-27 with over four minutes left, but the defense was then overwhelmed by LeSean McCoy in the running game.

NFC North Week 14 decisive moment

December, 14, 2010
12/14/10
1:00
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NFC Decisive Moments: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

The Detroit Lions knew they might never get a better chance to take the lead Sunday in what was yet another close game in the fourth quarter. So facing a second down from the Green Bay Packers' 13-yard line, they dialed up what they hoped was a perfect play for the situation.

Offensive coordinator Scott Linehan called a tight end screen, but he targeted No. 3 tight end Will Heller. Heller was giving starter Brandon Pettigrew a breather at the end of a 12-yard drive, but the Packers could never have guessed what was coming.

Linebacker Clay Matthews ran past him at the line of scrimmage, and by the time Heller grabbed Drew Stanton's pass, he had three key blockers out in front of him.

Right tackle Corey Hilliard and center Dominic Raiola double-teamed safety Nick Collins. Receiver Calvin Johnson held off cornerback Tramon Williams. And Heller ran through linebacker A.J. Hawk's tackle attempt at the goal line for the touchdown.

"It was a long drive," Heller said. "Brandon [Pettigrew] made some big plays on the drive to get us in position. I was just going in to give him a blow. We called a tight end screen and it was a good situation for it. They were bringing pressure off the edge with Matthews. I got a hand on him and was able to release behind him. A lane opened up and the linemen made some big blocks."

Nearly half of the fourth quarter still remained, but as it turned out, Heller's touchdown proved to be the decisive moment of the game.

NFC West Week 14 decisive moment

December, 14, 2010
12/14/10
1:00
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NFC Decisive Moments: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

There were so many legitimate candidates this week.


One play trumped them all as the NFC West's decisive moment for Week 14.

St. Louis was trailing New Orleans 14-6 late in the second quarter when Rams linebacker Chris Chamberlain forced a Saints turnover during a kickoff return. The Rams had the ball. They had the momentum. They had a chance to pull within 14-13 heading into halftime.

Quarterback Sam Bradford threw for receiver Brandon Gibson, thinking he had a touchdown, but safety Malcolm Jenkins picked off the pass and raced 96 yards for a pivotal touchdown. The Saints led 21-6 and won 31-13.

"I've got to be better when we're down there and I've got to be smarter with the football," Bradford told reporters after the game. "I just can't make those mistakes."

AFC South Week 14 decisive moment

December, 14, 2010
12/14/10
1:00
PM ET
NFC Decisive Moments: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

Jacksonville was down three in the third quarter Sunday, when special teams made a play that helped turn things in the Jaguars’ favor against the Raiders.

Oakland's Jacoby Ford fielded Josh Scobee's kickoff and made it 8 yards before Kassim Osgood popped the ball free and Montell Owens recovered it at the Oakland 22-yard line. It gave the Jaguars a 2-1 advantage in turnovers.

After that takeaway, the offense needed only five plays to punch it into the end zone with a 10-yard pass from David Garrard to Mike Sims-Walker.

Jacksonville never trailed again, though the Raiders did manage to pull even at 31-31. But another giant special-teams play -- Deji Karim's 65-yard kickoff return -- set up Maurice Jones-Drew’s 30-yard, game-winning touchdown run.

The Jaguars pride themselves on special-teams play, so much so that Osgood was one of two significant free-agent additions during the offseason. They got him for plays like the forced fumble, and in a key win that kept the team atop the division, he produced in concert with the incumbent special-teams ace, Owens.

AFC West Week 14 decisive moment

December, 14, 2010
12/14/10
1:00
PM ET
NFC Decisive Moments: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

The biggest play of the game for the Oakland Raiders on Sunday at Jacksonville was its final good moment of the day in a 38-31 loss.

Raiders running back Darren McFadden concluded his three-touchdown day with a 36-yard run to tie the score at 31 with 1:53 to go. The Raiders’ playoff hopes looked like they would receive a boost.

Then the rest of the game happened.

On the ensuing kickoff, Jacksonville snatched momentum back when rookie Deji Karim returned the ball to the Oakland 30. The special-teams blunder clearly deflated Oakland’s defense. On the next play, Maurice Jones-Drew scampered 30 yards for a touchdown to give the Jaguars a seven-point lead with 1:34 left.

The Raiders weren't done yet. But they soon would be. The Raiders quickly got to the Jaguars’ 32. But Oakland quarterback Jason Campbell -- who played well until the final two plays -- took a 7-yard sack. That put Oakland at the 39 with 11 seconds to go. Campbell then made a bigger mistake when he hit rookie receiver Jacoby Ford at the 23 while he was in double coverage and not near the sideline. Ford was tackled a yard shy of a first down as time expired, leaving the Raiders 23 yards from tying the score.

In the end, McFadden’s terrific game-tying run was spoiled by big gaffes in the final two minutes of the game. The result was that Oakland is 1-3 since tying Kansas City with a 5-4 record following an overtime win over the Chiefs on Nov. 7. The Chiefs are 8-5 and lead the Raiders by two games with three to play.

AFC East Week 14 decisive moment

December, 14, 2010
12/14/10
1:00
PM ET
NFC Decisive Moments: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

Almost as soon as the Buffalo Bills won the opening coin flip and deferred, their defense got shoved around.

Cleveland Browns running back Peyton Hillis barged around as advertised -- 7 yards to the right, 4 yards to the left, 25 yards to the left, 8 yards to the right -- against the Bills' rice-paper run defense.

Before the Bills knew it on the opening possession, Hillis had five carries for 48 yards, and the Browns had second-and-goal at the 2-yard line.

You knew what was coming. Hillis ran off right guard for a touch ... Oh, only a 1-yard gain to delay the inevitable. So Hillis ran off right guard again for the ... no gain?

The Bills defended their goal line by stuffing one of the NFL's hardest runners. The Browns kicked a field goal.

In the span of two plays, Cleveland went from making a statement to being dictated to. Buffalo didn't surrender a touchdown and won 13-6.

"That was big, just to hold them to three points because they had marched the ball right down the field on us," Bills linebacker Paul Posluszny said. "We were saying, 'As long as we don't let them in.' We were able to hold them to three points, and that was huge."

Hillis averaged 3.8 yards the rest of the game. He fumbled three times and lost one.

AFC North Week 14 decisive moment

December, 14, 2010
12/14/10
1:00
PM ET
NFC Decisive Moments: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

For the past month, the most memorable play in Baltimore Ravens cornerback Josh Wilson's season was a controversial touchdown he allowed to receiver Roddy White in a loss to the Atlanta Falcons.

But Wilson made up for that play Monday night with a game-winning pick-six to lead the Ravens to a 34-28 overtime win over the Houston Texans. He read Houston quarterback Matt Schaub, caught the interception in stride and returned it 12 yards for a touchdown. The play propelled Baltimore to a 9-4 record and negated an embarrassing second-half collapse where the Ravens blew a 21-point lead.

Wilson was acquired in a trade with the Seattle Seahawks and the move has paid dividends. He began as a backup, then eventually replaced Fabian Washington in the starting lineup. Wilson has 37 tackles and three interceptions for Baltimore this season.

The Ravens have some concerns, particularly with their recent play in the fourth quarter. But Wilson's big interception allows Baltimore to search for answers while coming off a victory.

The Ravens will play host to the pass-heavy New Orleans Saints (10-3) on Sunday at M&T Bank Stadium.

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