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NFL 2012 Season — Week 15 Recap

Colin Kaepernick
Jared Wickerham, Getty Images

San Francisco withstood a miraculous comeback by New England and clinched a playoff berth, and three teams are now tied for the NFC East lead. Here’s a recap of Sunday’s games:

San Francisco 41 — New England 34

Colin Kaepernick threw four touchdown passes, and the San Francisco 49ers held on to beat the New England Patriots, 41-34, in rain-soaked Foxborough, Mass. on Sunday night. San Francisco (10-3-1) clinched an NFC playoff spot with the victory, but not before it squandered a 28-point, second-half lead.

After falling behind 31-3 when Kaepernick threw a 27-yard TD pass to Michael Crabtree with 10:21 left in the third quarter, New England (10-4) quickly rallied behind quarterback Tom Brady, tying the game 31-31 on Danny Woodhead’s 1-yard TD run with 6:43 remaining in the fourth. LaMichael James returned the ensuing kickoff 62 yards for the 49ers, and Kaepernick connected with Crabtree for the decisive 38-yard score on the next play.

San Francisco’s David Akers added a late, 28-yard field goal after a stalled Patriots’ drive. New England then marched down the field but settled for a 41-yard Stephen Gostkowski field goal before failing to recover the ensuing onside kick.

Brady finished with 443 passing yards, a touchdown and two costly interceptions, while Patriots’ wide receiver Brandon Lloyd caught 10 passes for 190 yards. Kaepernick finished with 216 passing yards, and Crabtree had seven catches for 107 yards and the two scores for the 49ers.

Dallas 27 — Pittsburgh 24 (OT)

Brandon Carr intercepted Ben Roethlisberger in overtime, and Dan Bailey kicked a 21-yard field goal two plays later as the Dallas Cowboys beat the Pittsburgh Steelers, 27-24, in Arlington, Tex. on Sunday. Carr returned the interception 36 yards to the Steelers’ 1-yard line to set up Bailey’s kick. Dallas (8-6) tied the game on DeMarco Murray’s 3-yard touchdown run with 6:55 to play. After trailing 10-0 early, Pittsburgh (7-7) had taken a 24-17 lead in the fourth quarter before the Cowboys’ rallied.

Tony Romo threw for 341 yards and two scores for Dallas. The Cowboys moved into a three-way tie with the Giants and Redskins for the NFC East lead. Roethlisberger passed for 339 yards and two touchdowns for the Steelers.

Green Bay 21 — Chicago 13

Aaron Rodgers threw for 291 yards, including three touchdown passes to James Jones, and the Green Bay Packers beat the Chicago Bears, 21-13, in Chicago on Sunday. The victory allowed Green Bay (10-4) to clinch its second straight NFC North title. Randall Cobb caught six passes for 115 yards for the Packers. Chicago (8-6) managed just 190 total yards of offense. Brandon Marshall’s 15-yard touchdown catch was the only time the Bears crossed the goal line.

Washington 38 — Cleveland 21

Rookie quarterback Kirk Cousins threw for 329 yards and two touchdowns in place of injured starter Robert Griffin III, and the Washington Redskins beat the Cleveland Browns, 38-21, in Cleveland on Sunday. Leonard Hankerson caught both of Cousins’ scoring passes for Washington (8-6), which won its fifth straight game and moved into a tie with the Giants and Cowboys atop the NFC East. Rookie running back Trent Richardson had two touchdown runs for Cleveland (5-9).

Denver 34 — Baltimore 17

Chris Harris returned an interception 98 yards for a touchdown, and the Denver Broncos beat the Baltimore Ravens, 34-17, in Baltimore on Sunday. Peyton Manning passed for 204 yards and a score for Denver (11-3), which won its ninth straight game. Broncos’ running back Knowshon Moreno ran for 118 yards and a touchdown. Denver receiver Eric Decker had eight receptions for 133 yards and a score.

Baltimore (9-5) lost its third straight game. The Ravens trailed 10-0 near halftime, but they were in scoring position at the Denver 4-yard-line when Harris stepped in front of a Joe Flacco pass intended for Anquan Boldin and returned it the distance for the score. Dennis Pitta had seven catches for 125 yards, including two touchdowns, for Baltimore.

Houston 29 — Indianapolis 17

Andre Johnson had 11 receptions for 151 yards and a touchdown, and the Houston Texans beat the Indianapolis Colts, 29-17, in Houston on Sunday. The victory gave Houston (12-2) its second consecutive AFC South title. Arian Foster ran for 165 yards for the Texans, while Shayne Graham kicked five field goals for Houston. Andrew Luck threw for 186 yards and two scores for Indianapolis (9-5), but he was sacked five times. Vick Ballard added 105 rushing yards for the Colts.

Atlanta 34 — N.Y. Giants 0

Matt Ryan passed for 270 yards and three touchdowns, and the Atlanta Falcons blanked the New York Giants, 34-0, in Atlanta on Sunday. Julio Jones caught six passes for 74 yards and two scores for Atlanta (12-2). Eli Manning threw for just 161 yards with two interceptions for New York (8-6), which suffered its first regular-season shutout since 1996. As a result of the loss, the Giants fell into a three-way tie with Washington and Dallas atop the NFC East.

Minnesota 36 — St. Louis 22

Adrian Peterson ran for 212 yards, including a game-breaking 82-yard touchdown, and the Minnesota Vikings beat the St. Louis Rams, 36-22, in St. Louis on Sunday. Minnesota (8-6) broke out to a 30-7 halftime lead and was never threatened by St. Louis (6-7-1). Sam Bradford passed for 377 yards and three scores to lead the Rams, but he had an interception returned 29 yards for a touchdown by Everson Griffen in the second quarter.

Miami 24 — Jacksonville 3

Ryan Tannehill completed 22 of 28 passes for 220 yards and two touchdowns, and the Miami Dolphins beat the Jacksonville Jaguars, 24-3, in Miami on Sunday. Reggie Bush added 104 rushing yards on 21 carries for Miami (6-8). Former Dolphins’ quarterback Chad Henne threw for 221 yards for Jacksonville (2-12). Jaguars’ receiver Cecil Shorts caught six passes for 101 yards.

New Orleans 41 — Tampa Bay 0

Drew Brees threw for 307 yards and four touchdowns, and the New Orleans Saints shut out the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 41-0, in New Orleans on Sunday. Mark Ingram added 90 rushing yards and a score for New Orleans (6-8), which built a 24-0 halftime lead before cruising in the second half. Josh Freeman threw for 279 yards and four interceptions for Tampa Bay (6-8). He also lost a fumble. Buccaneers’ rookie running back Doug Martin had just 16 yards on nine carries.

Carolina 31 — San Diego 7

Former Charger Mike Tolbert scored two touchdowns, and the Carolina Panthers beat San Diego, 31-7, in San Diego on Sunday. Cam Newton threw for 231 yards and two touchdowns for Carolina (5-9). DeAngelo Williams carried 22 times for 93 yards for the Panthers. San Diego (5-9) had just 164 total yards of offense.

Seattle 50 — Buffalo 17

Rookie quarterback Russell Wilson ran for three touchdowns and passed for another, and the Seattle Seahawks beat the Buffalo Bills, 50-17, in Toronto on Sunday. Wilson scored on runs of 14, 25 and 13 yards in the first half as Seattle (9-5) built a 31-17 lead. He finished with 205 passing yards and 92 rushing yards. Marshawn Lynch carried 10 times for 113 yards and a touchdown for the Seahawks. C.J. Spiller ran for 103 yards and a score for Buffalo (5-9). Bills’ receiver Stevie Johnson caught eight passes for 115 yards and a touchdown.

Oakland 15 — Kansas City 0

Sebastian Janikowski kicked five field goals, and Darren McFadden ran for 110 yards as the Oakland Raiders beat the Kansas City Chiefs, 15-0, in Oakland on Sunday. Oakland (4-10) won its first game since defeating the Chiefs in Week 8. Kansas City (2-12) managed just 119 total yards of offense, rushing for just 10 yards — all by Jamaal Charles, who led the AFC in rushing coming into the game.

Arizona 38 — Detroit 10

Arizona intercepted Matthew Stafford three times, and the Cardinals beat the Detroit Lions, 38-10 in Glendale, Ariz. on Sunday. The victory snapped a nine-game losing streak for Arizona (5-9). Rashad Johnson and Greg Toler each returned an interception thrown by Stafford for a touchdown for the Cardinals. Calvin Johnson caught 10 passes for 121 yards for Detroit (4-10). His seventh straight 100-yard receiving game tied an NFL record.

[Scores and stats via NFL.com]

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