NFL 28 days ago

NFL: Headlines from Week 15

  • NFL: Headlines from Week 15

    (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)

Playoff implications followed every fixture this past weekend as the NFL took one step closer to the postseason. Here are the main headlines coming out of Week 15:

Game of the year

Though Pittsburgh's showdown at home to New England certainly lived up to the hype, it will forever be remembered for the game-changing call 15 seconds from full-time that ultimately sealed the Patriots' 27-24 win.

After Tom Brady, who finished 22-of-35 for 298 yards, one touchdown and one interception, found Rob Gronkowski (9 REC, 168 YDS) on a successful two-point conversion with 56 seconds remaining, Juju Smith-Schuster put life back into Pittsburgh with a lung-bursting 69-yard catch-and-run that placed the Steelers at the 10-yard line, and eyeing a game-winning touchdown.

It didn't take Mike Tomlin's men long to find the end zone - Ben Roethlisberger hitting tight end Jesse James for the score - but it was ultimately wiped away after officials believed the catch did not survive the ground.

And after failing to find the end zone on his next throw, Roethlisberger's next pass, intended for Eli Rogers, was ultimately tipped and intercepted at the goal line with five seconds remaining.

The loss propels New England (11-3) back to the top of the AFC and leaves Pittsburgh rueing missed opportunities and feeling a sense of injustice after the replay center's contentious ruling cancelled out James' game-clinching score.

No Wentz, no worries

Carson Wentz may be out for the rest of the season, but the Philadelphia Eagles seemed just fine as backup Nick Foles helped them to a 34-29 win over the New York Giants.

After trailing 20-7, Foles picked up Philly's defensive slack, and found rhythm with receivers Alshon Jeffery (4 REC, 49 YDS, TD) and Nelson Agholor (7 REC, 59 YDS, TD) en route to an impressive individual performance.

The former Rams quarterback finished 24-of-38, with 237 yards and four touchdowns to bring the Eagles to 12-2 on the season, securing a first round bye in the playoffs.

While head coach Doug Pederson will hope his defence return to their dominant best in the remaining two weeks of the regular season, more mistake-free displays on offence should be enough to keep his side on pace for a deep postseason run.

With remaining fixtures against the Raiders (6-8) and the Cowboys (8-6), and the Minnesota Vikings (11-3) hot on their heels, at least one more win should be enough to give the Eagles the all-important number one seed in the NFC.

Superman Cam too strong

With Aaron Rodgers cleared to start, Green Bay knew three wins from their remaining three games would give them a legitimate chance of making the playoffs, despite needing other results to swing their way.

But after a brief 14-10 half-time lead over the Panthers gave fans a measure of hope, Cam Newton crushed it with a dominating second-half performance.

The 2015 MVP finished 20-of-31 with 242 yards and four touchdowns through the air as the now 10-4 Panthers moved one step closer to a playoff berth with a 31-24 win.

Defensive coordinator Steve Wilks dialled up a brilliant defensive display for his men, reducing a rusty Rodgers to three interceptions and forcing three sacks on his return from a broken collarbone suffered in October.

While the 7-7 Packers are almost undoubtedly eliminated from postseason contention, Carolina continue to improve each game, posing a serious threat to the NFC bracket and a genuine contender to return to the Super Bowl for the first time since their defeat to Denver two seasons ago.
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