There were a couple of interesting games among the early Sunday offerings. The Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Ravens battled as expected, with Pittsburgh coming out on top of a 23-20 score, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers shocked everyone by beating the New Orleans Saints 20-17 in overtime, and the Miami Dolphins came back from a 27-0 first-half deficit against the Houston Texans to score 20 unanswered points and make it close enough that the Texans' recovery of a Miami onside kick with 2:29 left in the game saved the contest for Houston.
Overall, though ... really bad blowouts were the order of the day. The Seattle Seahawks traveled to Lambeau Field, where they had problems a few years ago when they weren't the excruciatingly horrible team they are now. In their 48-10 loss to the Packers, the Seahawks saw the second team this season pull their starting quarterback in the third quarter (Tarvaris Jackson(notes) for Brett Favre(notes)) with the game out of reach.
The New York Giants were trying to keep playoff hope alive and give Giants Stadium a good sendoff, and they did neither. The Carolina Panthers wiped the floor with Big Blue in an inexcusable performance for Tom Coughlin's team. The Giants' beat-up secondary allowed three touchdowns from Matt Moore(notes), and Jonathan Stewart(notes) ran wild over that formerly great front seven for 208 yards on 28 carries -- the most ever given up by the Giants at Giants Stadium. Eli Manning(notes) didn't have a bad game in the air, but he fumbled three times, losing one, and his receivers were dropping easy passes and losing fumbles of their own. Carolina's Steve Smith won the battle of the Steve Smiths by putting up what might be the "Oh my GOD!" catch of the season, breaking his forearm on a hit from Giants defender Michael Johnson and still taking the ball in for the score.
The Atlanta Falcons beat the tar out of the Buffalo Bills, 31-3, giving them a chance at 8-7 to finish with consecutive winning seasons for the first time in franchise history. And the Cleveland Browns beat the Oakland Raiders, 23-9, behind the 39 carries and 148 rushing yards of new star Jerome Harrison(notes). Meanwhile Raiders "quarterback" Charlie Frye(notes) put up what may be the most impressive statistic of the 2009 season: He threw 45 passes, and not one touchdown. Last but not least, the New England Patriots destroyed the Jacksonville Jaguars, 35-7, clinching the AFC East title in the process, as Tom Brady(notes) completed 23 of 26 passes for 267 yards and four touchdowns. For the eighth time in 2009, Jags quarterback David Garrard(notes) did not throw a touchdown pass in a game.
We've also got a 17-0 Arizona beatdown of the Rams at the half of one of the late games, but the other three contests look halfway competitive if the Broncos can do something about Brent Celek(notes). Stay tuned, folks!