NFL week 12 review: Pittsburgh Steelers' winning streak ends at Denver Broncos
The Pittsburgh Steelers saw their six-game winning streak come to an end in dramatic fashion at the Denver Broncos.
A first defeat since 1 October, when they lost to the Baltimore Ravens, meant the Steelers slipped down the AFC play-off rankings to be replaced by the New England Patriots, who claimed the number two spot by beating the New York Jets.
The Broncos ended the Los Angeles Chargers' six-game winning run last week and did exactly the same to the Steelers in a scintillating 24-17 victory that contained a touchdown from a fake field goal and a game-winning interception from the most unlikely of sources.
Pittsburgh's two-time Super Bowl-winning quarterback Ben Roethlisberger threw for an incredible 462 yards and provided the pass for JuJu Smith-Schuster to gallop the length of the field for a 97-yard touchdown - but a late interception by Broncos defensive tackle Shelby Harris proved costly.
"Of all the interceptions I've thrown it's one of the most fluky I've been associated with," Roethlisberger said after his pass into the endzone was gathered by Harris. "I never thought in a million years a defensive lineman would get blocked off the ball that far, right into an interception."
The Steelers had already had a field goal blocked and were denied a certain touchdown when Xavier Grimble was hit right on the goalline and fumbled the ball out into the endzone to hand possession back to Denver.
Journeyman defender Harris, who has been cut by NFL teams seven times, then sealed the game with his first career interception to help celebrate the birth of his daughter on Friday. It's been quite a week for the nose tackle.
After all the mayhem, Denver's record now reads 5-6, and with their schedule looking a lot easier they're well in the play-off race. Pittsburgh slipped to 7-3-1 and have some tough match-ups remaining - starting next week with the LA Chargers.
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NFL week 12: Play-off race hots up and Browns end road woes
The New England Patriots returned from a bye week to earn their now customary win over the New York Jets.
A fifth win in a row over their local rivals put them into second place in the AFC play-off places, which would earn them a week off in the post-season and a crucial home game.
The Los Angeles Chargers have the same 8-3 record as New England after a dominant 45-10 win over the Arizona Cardinals in which quarterback Philip Rivers enjoyed a record-breaking day after completing his first 25 passes of the game.
He set a new NFL record for completed passes to start a game with and also tied with the overall record of 25 passes in a row, although that was spread over two games. Rivers remarkably found the target on 28 of his 29 passes as the Chargers set themselves up nicely for a huge game in Pittsburgh next week.
The Cleveland Browns are actually showing up in the play-off picture, which is an achievement in itself, after they ended a run of 25 straight defeats away from home with a dominant 35-20 dispatching of the free-falling Cincinnati Bengals.
Rookie quarterback Baker Mayfield threw four touchdown passes and, with him and running back Nick Chubb making huge plays, the future finally looks a bit brighter in Cleveland.
The Minnesota Vikings stayed in the play-off hunt and possibly ended the chances of rivals the Green Bay Packers 24-17.
Jake Elliot's last-minute kick ensured the reigning champions are still alive as the Philadelphia Eagles beat the New York Giants 25-22 despite the best efforts of Saquon Barkley, who had another monster game for the Giants.
The Carolina Panthers' Christian McCaffrey was another running back who had a huge game in a losing effort. He ran a team-record 237 yards and claimed two touchdowns but the Panthers lost out to the Seattle Seahawks on a last-second kick to go down 30-27.
Late kicks were a theme on Sunday as Adam Vinatieri booted the Indianapolis Colts to victory over the Miami Dolphins after quarterback Andrew Luck's late rally kept the Colts' play-off hopes alive in a 27-24 win.
What happened in the Monday night game?
Lamar Miller scored with a 97-yard touchdown run to help extend the Houston Texans' winning streak to eight games as they beat the Tennessee Titans 34-17.
Stats of the week
Roethlisberger threw for a whopping 462 yards for Pittsburgh to extend his own NFL record of 450-yard games to six.
Smith-Schuster's 97-yard touchdown was the longest play from scrimmage since his 97-yarder last season. He's just the fourth player to record multiple touchdown receptions of 95 yards or more.
The New England Patriots secured their 18th consecutive season of at least eight wins, the second-best run in league history behind the Dallas Cowboys, who went 21 years in a row from 1965 to 1985.
Tom Brady now has the most career passing yards in NFL history in combined regular season and play-off games, with a total of 79,416 for his career.
Brady also reached 3,000 yards passing for the 16th season, tying Peyton Manning for second in NFL history behind only Brett Favre with his record of 18.
Andrew Luck has thrown at least three touchdowns in eight straight games to match Peyton Manning for the second-best run in NFL history, only Brady is in front of them with a 10-game run.
Who should be MVP this week?
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Plenty of beef in Bills v Jags
Ever since Jacksonville Jaguars cornerback Jalen Ramsey called new Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen "trash", this match-up was eagerly anticipated.
Temperatures boiled over on Sunday with both Shaq Lawson and Leonard Fournette getting thrown out of the game for fighting as the Bills inflicted yet another defeat on the Jaguars.
Buffalo's media team could not resist poking fun at Ramsey after the game when they published his tweet from earlier in the season, which seemed poorly judged given Jacksonville's predicament.
Browns break road duck in highlight reel game
The Cleveland Browns have been breaking disappointing runs all season and suddenly find themselves just about in the play-off picture after a memorable victory at the Cincinnati Bengals that showed they have real hope for the future.
Baker Mayfield excelled at quarterback and there were highlight-reel efforts all round as David Njoku and Nick Chubb held their own touchdown of the season competition.
Chubb pulled off an unbelievable catch in the endzone as he claimed the ball from behind the head of a defender, while Njoku employed the help of several sizeable team-mates to help pick him up and carry him over the line.
Rivers a sneaky MVP candidate
Philip Rivers is quietly compiling an amazing season as quarterback of the Los Angeles Chargers, who have the same 8-3 record as the New England Patriots but are only currently good for a wildcard spot because they are in the same division as the Kansas City Chiefs (9-2).
Rivers had the best start ever to an NFL game at the weekend as he completed his first 25 passes in a 45-10 victory over the Arizona Cardinals. He finished with 28 out of 29 and recorded the highest ever completion percentage in a game.
It's not just this one game though, Rivers has been brilliant for the majority of his career and is top of the list of current quarterbacks without a Super Bowl appearance - if he can change that this season, or even get close, then he could be a dark horse for the top award.