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NFL 2011 Season – Week Four Recap

Aaron Rodgers
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It was a record-setting week for several players, and the Green Bay Packers and Detroit Lions are the only remaining unbeaten teams after week four of the NFL’s 2011 season. Here’s a recap of all the action:

Green Bay 49 – Denver 23

Aaron Rodgers threw for a career-high 408 yards, four touchdown passes and added two rushing scores, as the Green Bay Packers trounced the Denver Broncos 49-23. The Packers led 21-3 early in the second quarter, only to have Denver climb to within 21-17 on touchdown passes of 5 and 33 yards from Kyle Orton to Eric Decker. Green Bay (4-0) then scored 28 consecutive points to put the game out of reach. Orton finished with 273 yards and three touchdowns, but also had three interceptions, one of which Charles Woodson returned for a touchdown. The Broncos got 136 yards receiving from Brandon Lloyd and 103 rushing yards from Willis McGahee, but it wasn’t enough to record a win for Denver (1-3).

Detroit 34 – Dallas 30

Matthew Stafford tossed a 2-yard touchdown pass to Calvin Johnson with 1:39 to play to cap a 24-point comeback win for the Detroit Lions over the Dallas Cowboys 34-30. The Lions defense keyed the rally from the 27-3 third quarter deficit when they returned two Tony Romo interceptions for touchdowns in the third quarter. Romo, who finished the day with 331 yards passing and three touchdowns, could not lead the Cowboys to any fourth quarter points, as Detroit (4-0) extended their NFL-best eight-game winning streak. Dallas (2-2) held Stafford to 240 yards passing, but could not stop him with the game on the line.

Chicago 34 – Carolina 29

Devin Hester scored on his NFL-record 11th career punt return for a touchdown as the Chicago Bears beat the Carolina Panthers 34-29, despite allowing 543 yards of offense. Bears running back Matt Forte gained a career-high 205 yards rushing and scored a touchdown as Chicago (2-2) overcame a big day from Panthers rookie quarterback Cam Newton. Newton had 374 yards passing, one touchdown pass and two touchdown runs. Receiver Steve Smith caught eight of Newton’s passes for 181 yards  to become the all-time leading receiver for Carolina (1-3). Bears quarterback Jay Cutler had an awful day with just 102 yards passing.

Cincinnati 23 – Buffalo 20

Mike Nugent kicked the game-winning field goal as time expired, and the Cincinnati Bengals showed the Buffalo Bills what it’s like to be the victim of a comeback, in a 23-20 win in Ohio. Buffalo (3-1) stayed unbeaten the past two weeks with last-minute victories over Oakland and New England, but could not protect a 17-3 halftime lead against the Bengals. Rookie quarterback Andy Dalton had 298 yards passing and a touchdown pass and run to lead Cincinnati (2-2). Running back Cedric Benson rushed for 104 yards as the Bengals piled up 458 yards on the Bills defense. Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick was held to just 199 passing yards for Buffalo, by far his worst total of the season.

Tennessee 31 – Cleveland 13

Matt Hasselbeck threw three touchdown passes in the first half, as the Tennessee Titans built a 21-6 lead en route to a convincing 31-13 win over the Cleveland Browns. Titans running back Chris Johnson ran for 101 yards and helped Tennessee (3-1) control the clock with the big lead. Johnson  had just 98 yards total in his three previous games. Titans safety Jordan Babineaux’s 97-yard interception return for a touchdown off a pass by Browns quarterback Colt McCoy stretched the lead to 31-6. McCoy finished with 350 yards and a touchdown for Cleveland (2-2), but was sacked three times in addition to the picked off pass. McCoy completed passes to 11 different receivers and set club records for attempts (61) and completions (40).

Kansas City 22 – Minnesota 17

Ryan Succop made five field goals, and Matt Cassel threw a 52-yard touchdown to Dwayne Bowe, to lead the Kansas City Chiefs to a victory over the Minnesota Vikings, 22-17, in a battle of winless teams in Kansas City. The Vikings lost a second-half lead for the fourth straight game. Minnesota (0-4) led 10-9 after a Ryan Longwell field goal with 9:15 left in the third quarter. The Chiefs scored the next 13 points before Donovan McNabb tossed his second touchdown pass of the day for the Vikings. The 1-yard score to Michael Jenkins was Minnesota’s first second-half touchdown of the season. The game featured an animated second quarter discussion between Chiefs quarterback Cassel and coach Todd Haley when Kansas City (1-3) had a drive stall without a touchdown. Coming into the game, the Chiefs were last in the NFL in points-per game (9.0).

Washington 17 – St. Louis 10

The Washington Redskins used a dominating defense, which sacked St. Louis Rams quarterback Sam Bradford seven times, to gain a 17-10 victory. Ahead 17-0 entering the fourth quarter, the Redskins’ Stephen Bowen and Brian Orakpo registered key sacks to push the Rams out of scoring position late and preserve the win. Washington (3-1) was led by running back Ryan Torain, who rushed for 135 yards and a touchdown. The Redskins overcame two interceptions by Rex Grossman, who had just 143 yards passing on the day. St. Louis (0-4) managed just 172 total net yards of offense. Rams running back Steven Jackson scored on a touchdown pass from Bradford with 5:45 left in the fourth quarter, but was only able to gain 45 yards on 17 carries for the game.

New Orleans 23– Jacksonville 10

Drew Brees passed for 351 yards and a touchdown to offset his two interceptions, as the New Orleans Saints thumped the Jacksonville Jaguars 23-10. After scoring touchdowns on their first two possessions, the Saints (3-1) sputtered offensively and led the punchless Jaguars (1-3) just 14-10 at the half. Three second half field goals from kicker John Kasay  provided all the scoring New Orleans would need, as Jacksonville rookie quarterback Blaine Gabbert  was sacked three times and finished with just 196 yards passing and a touchdown. Jacksonville has scored only 39 points this entire season.

Houston 17 – Pittsburgh 10

Arian Foster returned from injury to run for 155 yards and the go-ahead touchdown, as the Houston Texans defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers 17-10. The Texans needed the production from Foster, the NFL’s leading rusher in 2010, as quarterback Matt Schaub threw for just 138 yards. The Texans also lost All-Pro Andre Johnson to a hamstring injury in the second quarter. Houston (3-1) sacked Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger five times, as his injury-riddled offensive line could not protect him. Pittsburgh (2-2) also lost key players during the game: running back Rashard Mendenhall, who had a hamstring problem and gained only 25 yards rushing, and linebacker James Harrison, who suffered an eye injury. The Texans halted the consecutive, 100-yard receiving games streak of Steelers’ receiver Mike Wallace at six. He finished with 77 yards on four catches.

San Francisco 24 – Philadelphia 23

Philadelphia blew a 20-point, second-half lead, as Frank Gore’s 12-yard touchdown run with three minutes to play gave the San Francisco 49ers the 24-23 win over the Eagles. Eagles quarterback Michael Vick had a career-high 416 yards passing along with two touchdowns, but the Philadelphia defense allowed the 49ers (3-1) to score 21 second-half points. Eagles rookie kicker Alex Henery also missed field goals of 39 and 33 yards in the fourth quarter, either of which could have provided the margin of victory for Philadelphia (1-3). The Eagles have been outscored 36-0 in the fourth quarter over the past three weeks.

N.Y. Giants 31 – Arizona 27

Eli Manning’s two touchdown passes less than a minute apart in the fourth quarter led the N.Y. Giants to a 31-27 victory over the Arizona Cardinals. Arizona had the game in hand 27-17 after running back Beanie Wells’ third touchdown of the game with 5:16 left, but Manning’s 29-yard touchdown pass to Hakeem Nicks with 2:39 remaining gave New York (3-1) the stunning win. Nicks finished with 162 receiving yards for the Giants. Wells had a career-best 138 yards rushing for the Cardinals (1-3), who lost their third game in a row. The Giants defense pressured Arizona’s Kevin Kolb all day, sacking him four times and forcing him to commit an interception and a fumble.

Atlanta 30 – Seattle 28

Seattle kicker Steven Hauschka missed a 61-yard field goal at the end of the game as the Atlanta Falcons held on for a 30-28 win over the Seahawks. The Falcons, who at one point were ahead 27-7, were led by quarterback Matt Ryan’s 291 yards passing and running back Michael Turner’s 70 yards rushing and two touchdowns. Receiver Julio Jones also caught 11 passes for 127 yards for Atlanta (2-2). Tavaris Jackson had 319 passing yards and three scores for Seattle (1-3), whose offense did not click until it switched to a no-huddle set in the second half. The Seahawks managed only 53 yards rushing on the day.

San Diego 26 – Miami 16

The San Diego Chargers knocked Miami Dolphins quarterback Chad Henne out of the game on the way to a 26-16 win. Philip Rivers had 307 passing yards and one touchdown, while Mike Tolbert rushed for another score to lead the Chargers (3-1).  Kicker Nick Novak hit field goals from 27, 48, 23 and 38 yards to account for the remainder of the San Diego scoring. Matt Moore, Henne’s backup, was able to get the Dolphins on the scoreboard first, but Miami (0-4) sputtered for the rest of the game, finishing with just 248 yards of total offense. Moore was sacked three times. Receiver Vincent Jackson had 108 yards and a 55-yard touchdown grab for San Diego.

New England 31 – Oakland 19

Tom Brady had only 226 passing yards and two touchdowns in week four, but that was enough to lead the New England Patriots over the Oakland Raiders 31-19. The Patriots defense limited Raiders running back Darren McFadden to 75 yards and no scores. Quarterback Jason Campbell threw for 344 yards passing and a touchdown for Oakland (2-2), but also threw two interceptions, including one to Patrick Chung in the Patriots end zone with the Raiders poised to take the lead before halftime. Instead, the Patriots took a 17-10 lead into the half and eventually extended it to 31-13 early in the fourth quarter. Stevan Ridley and BenJarvus Green-Ellis each scored a touchdown and had 97 and 75 yards rushing respectively for New England (3-1). Patriots receiver Wes Welker created havoc in the Raiders secondary all afternoon, as he amassed 158 yards on nine catches and one touchdown.

Baltimore 34 – N.Y. Jets 17

The Baltimore Ravens scored 21 points off Mark Sanchez turnovers, as they cruised to a 34-17 win over the New York Jets. The Ravens Jameel McClain set the tone by returning a fumble recovery 6 yards  for a score on the Jets first offensive play. Jarret Johnson added a 26-yard touchdown when Sanchez fumbled after being sacked by Ravens defensive lineman Haloti Ngata in the second quarter. Ladarius Webb returned a Sanchez interception 73 yards for a touchdown with 8:49 left in the third quarter to complete the scoring for both teams. Sanchez finished with 119 yards passing, three fumbles and an interception. The Ravens (3-1) gained only 267 yards on offense as quarterback Joe Flacco struggled, committing two turnovers of his own, including an interception returned 35 yards for a touchdown by defender David Harris of the Jets (2-2).

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