Two quarterbacks in playoff contention battled through injury for wins while another injured quarterback is likely done for the season.
Detroit Lions QB Matthew Stafford suffered a dislocated middle finger on his right (throwing) hand and torn ligaments to the finger. He had a glove on his right hand, but was in the game running the ball in for the game-winning touchdown in the fourth quarter.
Stafford has now led eight game-winning drives in the fourth quarter or overtime this season, the most by a quarterback in a single season since 1970.
Stafford ended up throwing two interceptions in the game, but the Lions beat Chicago 20-17 to maintain their two-game lead in the NFC North and second seed in the current NFC playoff picture. The Lions are 9-4.
It was also in the NFC North that another quarterback injury cropped up.
Green Bay Packers QB Aaron Rodgers said he hurt his right calf on the first third-down play of the game, but remained in the game until the fourth quarter. Rodgers has also been dealing a hamstring injury to his left leg.
On Sunday, it didn’t matter, as the Packers crushed the Seattle Seahawks, 38-10, at Lambeau Field. Rodgers threw three touchdowns and no interceptions in the win to keep the Packers in the playoff hunt at 7-6, currently the ninth seed in the NFC.
“That’s football. You deal with injuries,” Rodgers said. “I’d like to talk about the win. You’re talking about my injuries. I’m not missing games, so … we’ve won three in a row.”
Rodgers has won 15 consecutive games in December starts at Lambeau Field, only the second player in NFL history to win at least 15 consecutive home starts in December, the other being Tom Brady with 19 straight December wins at home (from 2002-2012).
In fact, the Packers have won 43 of 49 December home games since 1992, according to the Elias Sports Bureau, dating back to Brett Favre’s first season in Green Bay. The latest one was a resounding win, snapping Seattle’s 85-game streak of not losing by more than 10 points, which, according to Elias, is an NFL record.
One of Rodgers’ touchdowns on Sunday went to Jordy Nelson, which tied that pitch-and-catch duo with Brett Favre and Antonio Freeman for the most touchdown passes (57) in franchise history.
The other injured quarterback on Sunday wasn’t as fortunate. Miami Dolphins QB Ryan Tannehill is believed to have suffered a season-ending torn anterior cruciate ligament in a 26-23 win over the Arizona Cardinals. Dolphins are 8-5 and currently the seventh seed in the AFC playoff picture.
OTHER ESSENTIALS FROM SUNDAY
- Pittsburgh Steelers RB Le'Veon Bell rushed for 236 yards and three touchdowns and added 62 yards receiving in the Steelers’ 27-20 win over the Buffalo Bills. Bell joins Jim Brown as the only NFL players to rush for 225 yards, three touchdowns and have 50 yards receiving in a game. Bell’s 1,616 scrimmage yards in his 10 games this season is bested only by Brown’s 1,704 in his first 10 games in 1963.
- Atlanta Falcons QB Matt Ryan threw for 237 yards and three touchdowns, pushing him past the 4,000-yard passing mark for the sixth consecutive season, tying him with Peyton Manning (1999-2004) for the second-longest streak in NFL history. Drew Brees owns that record and extended it on Sunday. Brees passed for 257 yards in the New Orleans Saints’ 16-11 loss at Tampa Bay, but Brees reached 4,170 passing yards on the season for his NFL-record 11th consecutive season with at least 4,000 yards. However, Brees became the only active player in the NFL to throw three interceptions and no touchdowns in two consecutive games.
- In the Falcons’ win, Vic Beasley had had three sacks, one forced fumble and a 21-yard fumble-return touchdown, becoming the 10th player – and first Falcon – to record three sacks and a fumble-return touchdown in a single game since the sack became an official statistic in 1982.
- Washington Redskins receiver DeSean Jackson had an 80-yard touchdown catch in a 27-22 win over the Philadelphia Eagles, giving Jackson 22 touchdowns of at least 60 yards in his career, the second-most in NFL history. Jerry Rice had 23 such plays in his career.
- With his 30th career touchdown catch, Eagles RB Darren Sproles is the first player in NFL history to have at least 30 receiving touchdowns (30), 20 rushing touchdowns (21), a punt-return touchdown (seven) and a kick-return touchdown (two).
- The Denver Broncos found a surefire formula to lose on Sunday. QB Trevor Siemian threw 51 times for 334 yards, but the Broncos ran the ball only nine times for 18 yards. The Tennessee Titans, who won 13-10, ran the ball 42 times for 180 yards. According to Elias, it was the 49th NFL game in which one team ran the ball at least 40 times and the other team did so 10 or fewer times – the run-oriented team has won every time.