WhatIfSports Duel to the Death Season: Week 13 (Part 2)

Apologies for the delay in running the second half of this week’s results – there are many of you who could not have lived one more second without knowing who would have won a game in the Louisiana Superdome – the ’05 Panthers or the ’09 Saints. It’s a question that has plagued philosophers since the dawn of time and I had the opportunity to answer it once and for all last Friday. And I blew it. NO EXCUSES. Let’s just dust ourselves off and pretend that never happened, okay? Without any further ado…

2005 Carolina Panthers (7-5) 28, 2009 New Orleans Saints (4-8) 13

Stephen Davis had three touchdown runs and Steve Smith added a receiving touchdown for the Panthers, who improved to 7-5 and remained right in the thick of the NFC wild-card chase. Jake Delhomme was an efficient 13-of-21 for 170 yards and one touchdown and Jordan Carstens added a couple sacks of Drew Brees. Will Smith had two sacks of his own for New Orleans.

1968 New York Jets (5-7) 33, 2007 New England Patriots (9-3) 28

Matt Snell scored on a 16-yard touchdown run with 48 seconds left to play and the Jets shocked the Patriots in a high-flying game at Shea Stadium. Snell and Emerson Boozer combined for 163 yards on 32 rushing attempts and Joe Namath was excellent as well, going 19-of-30 for 245 yards and two touchdowns. Yet the Patriots still had the lead late in the game thanks to a superlative performance from Tom Brady: 19-of-24 for 343 yards and four touchdowns, including two to Randy Moss, a 58-yard strike to Ben Watson and a 66-yard scoring throw to Laurence Maroney. But the Jets drove 59 yards on 9 plays in under two minutes to win the game and handed the Patriots a serious setback in their bid for a first-round bye in the playoffs.

1989 San Francisco 49ers (4-7-1) 35, 2012 Atlanta Falcons (4-8) 28

Roger Craig rushed for 182 yards and a touchdown on 21 attempts and Joe Montana threw three touchdowns (including two to Jerry Rice) as the Niners broke their long losing streak and held off the Falcons at Candlestick Park. Matt Ryan was superb, going 17-of-25 for 316 yards and four touchdowns; Roddy White and Julio Jones had 133 and 121 receiving yards, respectively. The Falcons couldn’t slow down the 49er offense, however, as Montana and Co. plowed their way to 441 yards of total offense and 25 first downs.

1981 Cincinnati Bengals (6-6) 31, 2008 Arizona Cardinals (5-7) 26

Ken Anderson went 17-of-21 for 219 yards and a touchdown and Pete Johnson added 97 yards and two touchdowns on the ground as the Bengals rebounded back to .500 and continued the Cardinals’ descent into mediocrity after their fast start. Anderson’s 15-yard touchdown pass to Dan Ross on the first play of the fourth quarter gave the Bengals a 24-20 lead and Johnson’s second touchdown run of the game later in the quarter would prove to provide the necessary points for victory. Kurt Warner was solid, going 20-of-31 for 257 yards, two touchdowns and an interception.

1979 San Diego Chargers (11-1) 23, 1969 Kansas City Chiefs (7-5) 16

Dan Fouts threw for 232 yards and two touchdowns on 25 attempts and the Chargers avenged their only prior loss of the season by beating the Chiefs at Jack Murphy Stadium for their league-leading tenth win in a row. Fouts also threw two interceptions (both to Emmitt Thomas) – then again, so did Len Dawson, who was also otherwise effective (13-of-21 for 219 yards and a touchdown). The Chiefs had one last chance to tie or win the game from the Charger 34 with four seconds left and Dawson actually completed his Hail Mary attempt to Fred Arbanas. The problem was, Arbanas fell out of bounds at the Charger 3 and Kansas City’s long winning streak came to an end and San Diego’s continued.

1985 Chicago Bears (7-5) 36, 1986 New York Giants (5-7) 14

Jim McMahon went 11-of-14 for 216 yards and two touchdowns and the Bears rolled up 406 yards of offense on the Giants to simultaneously break New York’s four-game winning streak and end their own three-game losing streak. Ken Margerum and Willie Gault both caught touchdown passes for the Bears – Gault’s gave the Bears a 20-7 lead with 45 seconds left in the first half and that was shortly followed by a 45-yard interception return for a touchdown by Ken Taylor that put the Bears up 20 going into halftime, essentially rendering the second half moot. Joe Morris ran for 105 and a touchdown on 18 carries but also had a costly lost fumble; Mark Bavaro had 109 receiving yards for the Giants as well.

1958 Baltimore Colts (6-6) 45, 1964 Cleveland Browns (1-11) 7

Lenny Moore and Alan Ameche combined for 209 yards and four touchdowns on 34 rushing attempts and the Colts got back to .500 with a thorough demolition of the Browns at Cleveland Stadium. Moore also had a touchdown catch and 47 receiving yards to go with his ground production; overall, Johnny Unitas went 15-of-25 for 158 yards and two touchdowns. The only points the Browns could muster came on a 14-yard touchdown throw from Frank Ryan to Gary Collins late in the fourth quarter – after the Colts had already gone up 45-0.

1975 Pittsburgh Steelers (9-3) 14, 1972 Miami Dolphins (6-6) 10

Terry Bradshaw’s 18-yard touchdown pass to Frank Lewis a little more than two minutes into the fourth quarter turned out to be the game-winner, as the Steelers survived being outgained 304-211 and ended the Dolphins’ five-game winning streak with a home victory at Three Rivers Stadium. Bradshaw also threw an 11-yard touchdown pass to Franco Harris to start the game’s scoring; in between, the Steelers couldn’t do much offensively. The Dolphins’ passing game woes returned, however, as Bob Griese only went 9-of-22 for 96 yards and an interception. Miami’s offense was almost entirely produced through the ground; Larry Csonka had a 69-yard touchdown run in the third quarter and had 114 rushing yards overall and Mercury Morris added 94 yards of his own.

Next time: The ’79 Chargers face maybe the stiffest test to their winning streak when they travel to Green Bay to play the ’62 Packers; the ’02 Buccaneers and ’00 Titans meet in a battle of South division leaders; the ’05 Panthers visit the ’99 Jaguars in an interconference matchup of wild-card hopefuls; and the ’98 Broncos try to save their season with a win at the ’69 Chiefs.

AFC East

  1. ’07 New England: 9-3 (3)
  2. ’72 Miami: 6-6
  3. ’90 Buffalo: 6-6
  4. ’68 NY Jets: 5-7

AFC North

  1. ’75 Pittsburgh: 9-3 (4)
  2. ’58 Baltimore: 6-6
  3. ’81 Cincinnati: 6-6
  4. ’64 Cleveland: 1-11

AFC South

  1. ’00 Tennessee: 11-1 (1)
  2. ’99 Jacksonville: 8-4 (5)
  3. ’91 Houston: 6-6
  4. ’06 Indianapolis: 2-10

AFC West

  1. ’79 San Diego: 11-1 (2)
  2. ’69 Kansas City: 7-5 (6)
  3. ’98 Denver: 6-6
  4. ’76 Oakland: 2-10

NFC East

  1. ’92 Dallas: 9-3 (1)
  2. ’91 Washington: 8-4 (5)
  3. ’86 NY Giants: 5-7
  4. ’60 Philadelphia: 1-11

NFC North

  1. ’62 Green Bay: 9-3 (3)
  2. ’85 Chicago: 7-5 (6)
  3. ’73 Minnesota: 4-8
  4. ’52 Detroit: 2-10

NFC South

  1. ’02 Tampa Bay: 8-4 (4)
  2. ’05 Carolina: 7-5
  3. ’09 New Orleans: 4-8
  4. ’12 Atlanta: 4-8

NFC West

  1. ’99 St. Louis: 9-3 (2)
  2. ’08 Arizona: 5-7
  3. ’05 Seattle: 4-7-1
  4. ’89 San Francisco: 4-7-1
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