It's Tebow Time!
Neil Reynolds hails Tim Tebow's ability to produce the goods in his latest Pick Six.
Last Updated: 29/11/11 3:17pm
With three games played on Thanksgiving Day in America, you might have been forgiven for thinking Sunday would be a relatively quiet day in the NFL.
That was certainly not the case in Week 12. We had more key quarterbacks go down with injuries, there were much-needed victories for teams in the playoff hunt and the Tim Tebow-led Denver Broncos continue to make headlines with late heroics.
The Broncos seem as good a place as any to start our look back on another wild week in the NFL...
It's still Tebow Time
I've made it quite clear on Sky Sports that I struggle with Tim Tebow as an NFL quarterback in the traditional sense of the word. He often looks like his mechanics are all off, his timing is all over the place and he is firing footballs filled with sand.
But the guy knows how to win and is now 5-1 as a starter following Sunday's 16-13 overtime defeat of the disappointing San Diego Chargers. Broncos Executive Vice President of Football Operations John Elway said last week that this club is no closer to finding its starting quarterback in 2012 but it will take a brave man to run Tebow out of town.
Before we get carried away with Tebow-Mania, however, it should be noted that Tebow completed just nine passes, although one of them was for a touchdown. It is the Broncos defense and not Tebow that is the true star of the show in Denver. That unit - led by the pass-rushing duo of Elvis Dumervil and rookie Von Miller - is playing so tough right now and they are the ones allowing the Broncos to hang around long enough for Tebow to produce the late-game heroics.
Tebow still has to produce the goods late in games and he has done that consistently in his time as a starter, but he does owe a debt of gratitude to that Denver D. There is no denying the Broncos have a good thing going on at the moment and they remain in the playoff hunt with six wins and five losses.
Quarterback worries in Houston
I've said time and again that I think quarterback is the most important position in the NFL. If you look at the very good teams in the league, they all have elite guys taking the snaps under center.
And that's why I worry for the Houston Texans, even though they are top of the AFC South with an 8-3 record, boast the NFL's leading defense and a running game that is among the very best around with Arian Foster and Ben Tate splitting the carries.
With starter Matt Schaub already sidelined for the rest of the year with a foot injury, it looks like the Texans are now without backup Matt Leinart for the remainder of the season with a broken collarbone.
That puts too much pressure on rookie fifth round draft pick T.J. Yates. The Texans signed veteran backup Kellen Clemens last week and they might dip back into the quarterback free agency pool in the coming days.
Reid in the hot seat
Things turned nasty in Philadelphia on Sunday night where fans of the hometown Eagles began chanting for head coach Andy Reid to be fired. This kind of abuse is nothing new for Eagles fans, of course. They once famously unleashed a barrage of snowballs on an unsuspecting charity worker who was dressed as Santa Claus at one of their home games.
The Eagles started brightly against the New England Patriots, racing into a 10-0 lead. Then things got out of hand and the Tom Brady-led Patriots romped to a 38-20 win that consigned the Eagles to a 4-7 record, leaving them three games behind the Dallas Cowboys in the NFC East with five to play.
The pressure that is mounting on Reid may be a little harsh, but it is what I expected and predicted earlier this summer. There was so much praise and adulation heaped on the Eagles in the off-season that they became dubbed The Dream Team.
As soon as quarterback Vince Young stuck that label on the Eagles, Reid was in trouble. Dream Teams don't just make the playoffs, they have to win championships. With expectation so high, Eagles players and fans have struggled more than most to cope with the lows this season. The Eagles are not only unlikely to win the Super Bowl, they are probably not going to make the playoffs and for that, I'm sad to say Reid might pay with his job.
Janikowski gives Chicago the boot
He may look like a pot-bellied fan who has just stumbled onto the field by mistake, but there's no getting away from the fact that Sebastian Janikowski is a tremendous weapon for the Oakland Raiders.
The Polish kicker boomed a club record six field goals for the Silver and Black during their 25-20 win over the Chicago Bears, keeping Oakland top of the AFC West with a 7-4 record.
What impresses me the most is that Janikowski seems to have none of the Jonny Wilkinson-type pre-kick routines that plague modern day kickers in various sports and can make you nervous just watching them hop from one leg to the other and back again. Janikowski wanders on, doesn't even take a proper run-up and then booms the ball through the uprights. Job done, he wanders off again and sits on the bench!
Falcons quietly taking flight
There are not too many people talking about the Atlanta Falcons at the moment but they appear playoff-bound and capable of putting up a decent fight when they get to the post-season.
Mike Smith's men defeated the Minnesota Vikings 24-14 on Sunday night. That was Atlanta's fifth victory in six games after they made a disappointing 2-3 start to the year.
Quarterback Matt Ryan is playing very well at the moment and threw three touchdown passes against the Vikings, Michael Turner remains one of the most powerful running backs in the NFL and Roddy White and Tony Gonzalez provide reliable, playmaking targets, as does rookie receiver Julio Jones when healthy.
The defense is not a dominant unit yet and the offensive line has taken a step back from 2010, but you can't argue with results and that makes Atlanta one of the hottest teams in the league heading into December.
Jets have the last laugh
Buffalo Bills wide receiver Stevie Johnson is a funny guy but it was the New York Jets who had the last laugh on Sunday night as they recorded a much-needed 28-24 victory over their AFC East rivals.
Johnson caught a five-yard touchdown pass in the first half and then mimicked Jets wide receiver Plaxico Burress by pretending to shoot himself in the leg. Burress is playing his first season in the NFL since serving more than a year in prison for carrying a gun and accidentally shooting himself with it in a New York nightclub.
But Johnson's excessive celebration penalty had severe consequences. He was flagged for a 15-yard penalty, giving the Jets good field position to start their next drive. And you guessed it, Burress capped that march with an outstanding touchdown catch of his own.
Then with New York leading inside the final minute, Stevie Stone Hands put two catchable passes on the ground and then the potential game-winning throw into the end zone on fourth down fell incomplete. The target on that play? Yep, Stevie Johnson! He learned on Sunday that if you're going to talk the talk, you'd better walk the walk.