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NFL Week 12 Recap: The Patriots Won’t Go Undefeated

New England Patriots v Denver Broncos
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Week 12 of the 2015 NFL season featured several incredible games, including an instant classic in the snowy Mile High City on Sunday night. Here’s a recap of this week’s action:

The Patriots Won’t Go Undefeated This Season

New England Patriots v Denver Broncos
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C.J. Anderson ran for a 48-yard touchdown on Denver’s first possession of overtime, and the Broncos handed the Patriots their first loss of the season, 30-24, on Sunday night.

Trailing for most of the game, including 21-7 early in the fourth quarter, Denver (9-2) took a 24-21 lead on Brock Osweiler’s 3-yard touchdown pass to Bubba Caldwell with 1:09 to play. However, Tom Brady quickly rallied New England (10-1) into position for Stephen Gostkowski’s game-tying 47-yard field goal as time expired.

Brady and the Patriots couldn’t retain that momentum on the opening drive of overtime, and the Broncos made them pay when Anderson raced to the end zone with 12:32 left in OT. He finished with 113 yards and two touchdowns on 15 carries.

As bad as this loss was for New England, it could get worse: tight end Rob Gronkowski suffered a right knee injury with under three minutes to play. Already without running back Dion Lewis and with receivers Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola ailing, the Patriots might not be able to make a deep playoff run if they lose Gronk, too. Early reports say the injury may not be season-ending (for Gronk or New England).

Russell Wilson Had A Great 27th Birthday

Pittsburgh Steelers v Seattle Seahawks
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Playing on his 27th birthday, Russell Wilson threw for 345 yards and a career-high five touchdown passes, and the Seahawks outlasted the Steelers, 39-30, on Sunday. Wilson threw three touchdowns to Doug Baldwin, including two in the final 10 minutes, to help preserve the much-needed win for Seattle (6-5). No word on whether there was birthday cake in the locker room.

As eye-popping as Wilson’s numbers were, Ben Roethlisberger may have been even better for Pittsburgh (6-5). Roethlisberger’s 456 passing yards on Sunday set a record for an opponent against the Seahawks. However, Big Ben left the game late in the fourth quarter because of a suspected concussion. Seattle’s Kam Chancellor subsequently intercepted backup quarterback Landry Jones to clinch the win. As a result of the game, the Seahawks slid into the second NFC wild card spot.

Adrian Peterson Carried The Vikings Into First Place

Minnesota Vikings v Atlanta Falcons
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A week after being held to 45 yards in a loss to Green Bay that knocked Minnesota out of sole possession of first place in the NFC North, Adrian Peterson helped his team get back to the top of their division. Peterson ran for 158 yards and two touchdowns against the NFL’s top-ranked run defense, and the Vikings beat the Falcons, 20-10, on Sunday. Peterson’s 35-yard TD dash late in the fourth quarter sealed the win for Minnesota (8-3). Thanks to the Packers loss to the Bears on Thursday, the Vikings now have a one-game lead in the division.

After a 5-0 start, Atlanta (6-5) has lost five of its past six games, including four straight contests. Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan had another bad day, throwing two more interceptions; he has thrown eight picks in the last five games.

The Redskins Are Tied For The NFC East Lead

New York Giants v Washington Redskins
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Thanks in part to Kirk Cousins’ 63-yard touchdown pass to DeSean Jackson, Washington rolled up a 20-0 lead on New York and the Redskins held on to beat the Giants, 20-7, on Sunday. With the victory, Washington (5-6) pulled into a first-place tie with New York (5-6) in the mediocre NFC East.

Despite some truly dismal play earlier this season, the Redskins have a legitimate shot at winning the division: no team left on their schedule currently has a winning record. However, three of Washington’s five remaining games will be on the road, where they are 0-5 this season. If Jay Gruden’s team can figure out how to win one of those games and their two home contests, an 8-8 mark might be “good” enough to claim the NFC East title.

Both Kansas City & Houston Control Their Playoff Destinies

New Orleans Saints v Houston Texans
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A few weeks ago, both the Kansas City Chiefs and the Houston Texans seemed destined for high draft picks rather than AFC wild card spots, but respective five-and four-game win streaks have changed all that. After winning on Sunday, each team currently holds one of the two AFC wild card playoff spots with five games left.

Alex Smith passed for 255 yards and two touchdowns and the Chiefs beat the Bills, 30-22, for their fifth straight victory after a 1-5 start. Kansas City (6-5) set Buffalo (5-6) back in the AFC wild card race, too. None of the Chiefs remaining opponents currently has a winning record, meaning KC should be back in the playoffs come January.

Houston (6-5) held New Orleans (4-7) without a touchdown for the first time in nearly a decade — an NFL record 155 games — and the Texans dominated the Saints, 24-6. Houston’s defensive lineman/superhero J.J. Watt had two sacks, giving him an NFL leading 13 1/2. Winners of four straight games, the Texans are now tied with Indianapolis atop the NFC South.

Other Games

Thursday, November 26
Chicago 17, Green Bay 13
Carolina 33, Dallas 14
Detroit 45, Philadelphia 14

Sunday, November 29
Oakland 24, Tennessee 21
Indianapolis 25, Tampa Bay 12
Cincinnati 31, St. Louis 7
San Diego 31, Jacksonville 25
N.Y. Jets 38, Miami 20
Arizona 19, San Francisco 13

Full Scores & Stats
Full Standings

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