SportsNation Blog Archives New England Patriots
While the Denver Broncos were taking control of the AFC West against the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday, the other three top AFC contenders took care of business to extend their leads atop their respective divisions. And although none has officially clinched, the Cincinnati Bengals (two games up), New England Patriots (three) and Indianapolis Colts (also three) seem destined to host playoff contests come January.
Elsewhere, the Miami Dolphins moved to .500 by hammering the New York Jets, while the Baltimore Ravens looked on after beating the rival Pittsburgh Steelers on Thanksgiving. Which wild-card contender will taste the postseason? How will the division leaders fare?
The Patriots moved to 9-3 on Sunday -- but had to eke out a win over Houston.
The Bengals topped the host Chargers 17-10, moving them to 8-4 with three home games left.
Indy hasn't looked great of late but is 8-4 and should cruise to the AFC South title.
The Dolphins and Ravens are one game ahead of a four-team pack at 5-7.
DEN-NE: AFC title preview?
What seemed like a runaway win for the Denver Broncos -- they led 24-0 at halftime -- turned into one of the season's more back-and-forth battles, with the New England Patriots forcing overtime and winning 34-31 thanks to a late muffed punt. New England now is 8-3, the third-best record in the AFC and three games up on their two closest division rivals. Denver (9-2) is tied with Kansas City for the AFC West lead, with those teams facing off in Missouri next Sunday. Will Tom Brady and Peyton Manning meet again with a Super Bowl trip on the line?
The controversial ending of the Panthers' win over the Patriots on ESPN's "Monday Night Football" raised questions and eyebrows on Twitter, where football players and athletes from other sports weighed in on the pass interference penalty that wasn't.
Cardinals kicker Jay Feely thought the play, in which Panthers linebacker Luke Kuechly appeared to impede Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski's progress, was definitely a penalty.
That is absolutely pass interference. He never looked back for that ball.— Jay Feely (@jayfeely) November 19, 2013
Free agent punter Chris Kluwe was among those who thought a no-call was the right call.
For the record I think Gronk was interfered with, but it was after he had already put himself in a position to make it uncatchable. No flag.— Chris Kluwe (@ChrisWarcraft) November 19, 2013
But then again ...
Wife and I are arguing over the end of the MNF game. I told her it's obvious she never played football. She replied with "neither did you."— Chris Kluwe (@ChrisWarcraft) November 19, 2013
Baseball has taken steps to apply instant replay more often next season -- a big change in a sport where the umpire traditionally gets the last word, even when the call was incorrect. That mindset seemed to be reflected in many of the MLB player tweets we saw.
I wanna see the refs explanation to pick up flag !!! #crazy— Mike Trout (@Trouty20) November 19, 2013
There also seemed to be support among MLB players for calling the play a penalty.
The ending was a topic of conversation outside the sports world, too:Streeter Lecka/Getty Images
Just how good are the Panthers?
Another week, another big test passed by the Carolina Panthers. This one came on "Monday Night Football" against the New England Patriots, with Cam Newton leading a late touchdown drive in a dramatic 24-20 win (complete with controversial ending). That gives Ron Rivera's team its sixth straight win, moving it to 7-3 on the year and firmly into playoff position. Will the Panthers be a legitimate threat come playoff time?
pollcenter:category=4681+justhowgoodarethepanthers?AP Photo, USA Today Sports Images
NFL Week 11: Patriots at Panthers
Raise your hand if you saw this matchup being so intriguing, even a few weeks ago. Yep. Not a lot of hands up. But make no mistake: The Carolina Panthers are for real after they traveled to San Francisco and outslugged the 49ers. Can they do the same to the more prolific New England Patriots? Or has Bill Belichick's team found its offensive footing after some early-season struggles?