We'll be putting all our GIFs for the day here, from the happiest person you'll ever see on the receiving end of a ball from Cam Newton, to the Cowboys onside kicking in the third quarter, and failing. We'll update the post as the later games conclude, so stay tuned.
Dallas 23, Cleveland 20: It seemed, for a stretch, like this game would be the perfect incarnation of the 2012 Cowboys, who have tortured their fans to a remarkable extent on their way to 5-5. The 2-8 Browns came in, went up early, and then, even after the Cowboys came back to regain the lead, got one last excruciating touchdown. In the end Tony Romo (who threw 50 times today) and some defensive pass interference got the Cowboys close enough to tie it, and a good punt return gave them the field position to win in OT. The LOL-Boys equinox was narrowly averted. Still, the game gave us some wonderful GIFS, like the Cowboys, down 10, onside kicking to the Browns in the third quarter:
Or Trent Richardson hurdling a couple of Cowboys:
And for Browns fans, one of the best moments of the season: After a big punt return from Josh Cribbs (aided by a penalty for a horse collar tackle), the first play from the line of scrimmage, Weeden to Watson to put the Browns up 3. It didn't help in the win column, but, seeing as Brandon Weeden is on his last legs, this was a moral victory:
Green Bay 24 , Detroit 20: Down six with four minutes left, Aaron Rodgers led the Packers 82 yards down field (including one 40-yard pass) and put his team up one with about two minutes remaining. Three plays and one false start later, Matt Stafford gave it one last heave on fourth and 15 on the Lions 20 yard line—but it was not to be. Then the Packers kicked a field goal, just to be sure, gave it back to the Lions, and Calvin Johnson fumbled on the final play of the game. The Packers escaped Detroit (and escaped dropping to 6-4) just beneath the wire, which is how good teams escape things sometimes. Here's Matt Stafford drawing a roughing the passer call on 3rd and 8, which was good for the Lions. He went on to throw an interception the next play, which was bad for the Lions.
Cincinnati 28, Kansas City 6: The second straight game in which the Chiefs have held a lead! We won't dwell on this one, but to say damn: that's how you run in a touchdown, Jermaine Gresham. Not in a literal sense, as the replay official somehow determined that Gresham's knee was down at the one. He didn't get the TD that Andy Dalton ran in on the next play, but he gets his shine here. At least five Chiefs try to make a play on him, and about all five were necessary by the end:
New York Jets 27, St. Louis 13: The Jets! The Jets? The Jets. Sometimes you just have to find the right opponent, play them at the right time, and perform better than you have at nearly any other point during the season. If you can do that, you're golden. Mark Sanchez played a controlled game, the team carried the ball 41 times, and a takeaway off of a Muhammad Wilkerson sack/Bart Scott fumble recovery helped turn the tide early. Of course, it wouldn't be a Jets game if it didn't produce a hilarious GIF of Tim Tebow, here seen gaining negative yardage on a bizarrely designed fake punt:
Atlanta 23, Arizona 19: A game of runs, and mostly a game of borng runs. The Cardinals started with 13 straight, the Falcons answered with 13 straight, then field goal for field goal (yawn) until, finally, one team kicked a field goal and the other team responded with a touchdown. The teams' two elderly stalwart kickers, Matt Bryant and Jay Feely, had a big impact on the game, so, naturally, we aren't doing a GIF of them making field goals. Matt Ryan threw five (5!) interceptions, but Atlanta's 9-1 anyway.
Washington 31, Philadelphia 6: Nick Foles may not be the savior Eagles fans had hoped for. Granted, it was the first start of his career, but he looked...shaky? Foles threw two picks and fumbled thrice—but he didn't lose any of the fumbles, so, pretty good ball retention percentage there, in a sense. Foles's performance is extra bad news for a team whose starting quarterback can't drive, sleep, or keep his lunch down, and whose coach treats running plays like vegetables.
But all was not lost for fans of strong quarterback play: RGIII provided the highlights in what was, at the beginning of the day, merely a matchup of 3-6 NFC East teams. Griffin III had a perfect-passer rating of 158.3, and he threw four touchdowns on the day. This one? This one was about half Santana Moss:
Tampa Bay 27, Carolina 21: After allowing 21 consecutive points, finding themselves down 11 in the middle of the fourth, and finishing a two-point conversion with :12 on the clock to pull even in the fourth, a walk-off win for the Bucs in overtime. Doug Martin was great again—he had 47 yards on 4 carries during the only drive in OT, and 138 total—and Josh Freeman found Dallas Clark in the end zone to finish off the abject Panthers. The Bucs are now winners of four straight. Below, the first quarter random heave from Josh Freeman to Nate Byham that accounted for the difference:
Houston 43, Jacksonville 37: Yet another game tantalizingly close to being a near-historic upset for an awful team, only for the superior team to pull it out in overtime. The Texans made the critical error of knocking Blaine Gabbert out of the game, meaning non-hopeless back-up Chad Henne had to come in and show his stuff. Show it he did: 354 yards and four touchdowns against one the most fearsome defenses in the league. Were it not for the connection between Matt Schaub (43/55 for 527 yards and 5 TDs) and Andre Johnson (14 receptions, 273 yards), the Jaguars might have won this thing.
Jacksonville, not exactly known for its offensive outbursts, gave them a little of this action, Henne to Shorts for 67 yards:
And even late into overtime, it didn't seem like things were going the Texans' way:
But they pulled it out. After trading field goals and four-and-outs in OT, the aforementioned Andre Johnson took a short pass 48 yards and to the house. The Texans move to 9-1, Chad Henne and the Jaguars celebrate their best loss of the season by far.
New Orleans 38, Oakland 17: Drew Brees only had seven incompletions on the day. He finished with 219 yards and three touchdowns. The Saints defense added a touchdown as did Mark Ingram. The most memorable score came on Lance Moore's second touchdown of the day, late in the third quarter when this lady flipped off the whole world. Good times in the black hole.
New England 59, Indianapolis 24: Good lord, this was ugly. I think Julian Edelman returned every single punt to the Indianapolis five-yard line. Gronk had 137 yards receiving and two touchdowns. Andrew Luck was picked off three times. Tom Brady was a crisp 24-35 for 331 yards, 3 touchdowns and no interceptions. The Colts were dominated, as the saying goes, in all three phases of the game. To celebrate, here is one of Edelman's 15 punt return touchdowns.
Denver 30, San Diego 23: Peyton Manning got himself into second place all-time for touchdown passes and Broncos outlasted the Chargers. Manning had 270 yards and three touchdowns, his second of which was this 31-yard hookup with Brandon Stokley, just inside the two-minute warning.
Philip Rivers continued his flirtation with sub-mediocrity with a 253 yard, two touchdown and two interception performance. He also lost one fumble (at least). The game ended, as it is in vogue, with a Philip Rivers strip sack (though play-by-play says it was merely a sack, Rivers definitely fumbled, though it was unclear who recovered). It was the fourth sack of the day for the Broncos. Here is a without-doubt-Philip-Rivers-Sack-Fumble.
Baltimore, 13 Pittsburgh 10: Byron Leftwich got the scoring started early and he did it with his feet. Leftwich trotted 31 yards to the endzone in the first minute of gameplay to give the Steelers an early 7-0 lead. Here he is scooting down the sideline, throwing a nice head fake as though he's going out of bounds and proceeds to split the Baltimore defenders.
Later in the first, Jacoby Jones returned a punt 63 yards for a touchdown and did this. It is something. This pushed the Ravens ahead, 10-7. That would be the only scoring of the half.
The third quarter was thrilling. The teams traded field goals. Moving along to the fourth quarter, on third down and just seconds before the two minute warning, the Steelers took their final timeout (they previously burned two in that shootout of a third quarter). The plan was to stop the Ravens and get the clock stoppage of the two-minute warning before the punt. They got the stop, but two Steelers jumped offside and ruined everything. It cost Pittsburgh almost a full minute of time with the ball and, without any timeouts, they were doomed.
As promising as the game started for Leftwich and the Steelers, it ended with Leftwich being unable to make a throw to a wide-open man downfield. Most likely because he spent the previous 59 minutes and 30 seconds getting his ass kicked. Luckily for everyone, they get to play again in two weeks.