Week 12: Pair of Cardinals shine

Originally Published: November 27, 2011
ESPN.com

STUDS

Wells
Wells

Beanie Wells

Running back, Arizona Cardinals

Wells has dealt with a nagging knee problem this season, but even that couldn't hold him back against the hapless Rams defense. Wells carried 27 times for a team-record 228 yards in a 23-20 win in St. Louis, including runs of 71 and 53 yards. The latter of those long gains set up the go-ahead field goal, just one possession after a fumble by Wells led to the Rams kicking the game-tying field goal.


Sanchez
Sanchez

Mark Sanchez

Quarterback, New York Jets

Sanchez was the target of motivational tactics by coach Rex Ryan during the practice week, and he responded in a 28-24 win over the Bills. Sanchez completed just 17 of 35 passes, but he threw a career-high four touchdown passes, including the game-winner to Santonio Holmes with 1:01 remaining in the fourth quarter.


Johnson
Johnson

Chris Johnson

Running back, Tennessee Titans

Johnson finally had the breakout game everyone has been waiting for in the Titans' 23-17 victory over Tampa Bay. He rushed for 190 yards on 23 carries -- including a season-long 34-yard run -- and had 44 yards on the fourth-quarter drive that led to the go-ahead score.


Ryan
Ryan

Matt Ryan

Quarterback, Atlanta Falcons

Ryan was deadly accurate in a 24-14 win over Minnesota, completing 27 of 34 passes for 262 yards. He also tossed three touchdown passes, helping keep the Falcons alive in the NFC South race.


Peterson
Peterson

Patrick Peterson

Cornerback/punt returner, Arizona Cardinals

Peterson didn't let Wells have all the fun against the Rams, tying an NFL single-season record with his fourth punt-return touchdown of the season. Peterson's 80-yard score in the second quarter was his fourth return of 80 or more yards, making him the only player in league history to have four such returns in a single season.


Welker
Welker

Wes Welker

Wide receiver, New England Patriots

It was a big day for the entire New England offense in a 38-20 win over the Eagles, and Welker played a key role. He hauled in eight passes for 118 yards and a pair of touchdowns, including a 41-yard score that extended the Patriots' lead to 21-10 midway through the second quarter.


Brady
Brady

Tom Brady

Quarterback, New England Patriots

Brady kept his favorite targets happy in the win at Philadelphia, going 24 of 34 passing for 361 yards with touchdown passes to Welker and tight end Rob Gronkowski. Brady also connected with Deion Branch eight times and completed four passes to tight end Aaron Hernandez.


Barwin
Barwin

Connor Barwin

Linebacker, Houston Texans

Barwin had one of the best defensive performances of the season in the Texans' 20-13 win over Jacksonville. He had 10 total tackles, including four sacks and another tackle for loss, and overall totaled six quarterback hits.


Knox
Knox

Johnny Knox

Wide receiver, Chicago Bears

The Bears suffered a 25-20 defeat in Oakland, but don't blame Knox. The third-year wideout accounted for 145 of Chicago's 229 passing yards on just four catches. Knox's day included a 29-yard touchdown in the second quarter, and an 81-yard reception late in the fourth quarter that set up the Bears' final touchdown of the day.




DUDS

Johnson
Johnson

Stevie Johnson

Wide receiver, Buffalo Bills

Johnson not only raised the ire of many with an ill-conceived touchdown celebration that mocked the gun-related incident that landed Jets wide receiver Plaxico Burress in prison, he also cost the Bills a chance to potentially win the game. With the Bills trailing 28-24 in the final minute, a wide-open Johnson dropped a pass in New York territory that would have gone for a long gain and put the game-winning touchdown within reach.


Hanie
Hanie

Caleb Hanie

Quarterback, Chicago Bears

Yes, Hanie threw two touchdown passes in the Bears' loss to the Chargers, but his three interceptions were a much bigger factor. Hanie's two first-quarter picks were part of a slow start for the entire team, and it appears the injury to starter Jay Cutler will be a big obstacle as the 7-4 Bears make a playoff push.


Chargers

The San Diego Chargers

It was a tough day all around for the Chargers, whose 16-13 overtime loss to Denver was their sixth straight. The offense produced only one touchdown, Nick Novak missed two field goals (including one in overtime), quarterback Philip Rivers continued his erratic play, and head coach Norv Turner now appears to be squarely on the hot seat.


Bills

The Buccaneers' offense

Tampa Bay repeatedly hampered itself in a 23-17 loss to Titans, committing five turnovers on the day. Running back LeGarrette Blount had 103 rushing yards but fumbled twice. After the Titans took a 20-17 lead late in the fourth quarter, quarterback Josh Freeman threw an interception on the ensuing drive. Freeman, who also lost a previous fumble, then mishandled the snap on fourth-and-1 with under a minute remaining to end the Bucs' comeback hopes.


Gabbert
Gabbert

Blaine Gabbert

Quarterback, Jacksonville Jaguars

Yes, tight end Marcedes Lewis dropped a sure touchdown pass in the end zone, but Gabbert was unable to overcome that before being pulled early in a 20-13 loss to the Texans. Gabbert went just 13 of 29 passing for 126 yards, and also threw a second-quarter interception that Houston turned into a field goal to take a 17-10 lead.


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