2012 NFL Regular Season Recap

New England Patriots (12-4)
New England Patriots (12-4)
Tom Brady and the New England Patriots looked ready to make another Super Bowl run this year, even without tight end Rob Gronkowski, who broke his arm in week 11. The Patriots won nine of their last 10 games and wrapped up another AFC East title. They earned the No. 2 seed and a bye in the first week of the playoffs. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
Miami Dolphins (7-9)
Miami Dolphins (7-9)
The Miami Dolphins surprised a lot of people when they selected Ryan Tannehill in the first round of the 2012 NFL Draft. The Dolphins improved by one win over their 2011 season but only won two of their six divisional games. (Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images)
New York Jets (6-10)
New York Jets (6-10)
In the past offseason, the Jets signed quarterback Mark Sanchez and wide received Santonio Holmes to contract extensions, hired Tony Sparano to turn Sanchez into a franchise QB and traded for QB Tim Tebow. None of that seemed to help. Holmes and CB Darrelle Revis suffered season-ending injuries. Sanchez remained inconsistent, leading to calls for a QB change, which came late in the season. Tebow never saw much action. The Jets limped to the finish, and GM Mike Tannenbaum and Tony Sparano were fired. (Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)
Buffalo Bills (6-10)
Buffalo Bills (6-10)
In the last offseason, the Bills signed DE Mario Williams to a six-year, $100 million deal, and extended Ryan Fitzpatrick's contract another six years. Those deals weren't enough to prevent another disappointing season. The Bills ranked 25th in passing yards and 31st in rushing defense. Head coach, Chan Gailey, was fired at the end of the season, and Ralph Wilson relinquished control of the team. (Photo by Rick Stewart/Getty Images)
Baltimore Ravens (10-6)
Baltimore Ravens (10-6)
The Ravens lost their team leader, Ray Lewis, to an elbow injury in week six. He remained on injured reserve for the rest of the season and has since announced his retirement. Quarterback Joe Flacco and running back Ray Rice carried the team to the playoffs though offensive coordinator, Cam Cameron, was fired in December. The Ravens won the AFC North and earned the conference's fourth seed. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Cincinnati Bengals (10-6)
Cincinnati Bengals (10-6)
Quarterback Andy Dalton threw for 3,669 yards and BenJarvus Green-Ellis ran for over a 1,000 yards this season. The Bengals lost just two games in the second half of the season, rallying to earn a playoff spot for the second straight year. (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
Pittsburgh Steelers (8-8)
Pittsburgh Steelers (8-8)
The Pittsburgh Steelers once again had the best defense in the NFL, ranking 1st in passing defense and 2nd in rushing defense. But Ben Roethlisberger continued to be the story in Pittsburgh. Roethlisberger suffered a rib injury that sidelined him for three games, two of which the Steelers lost. In week 15 and 16 Roethlisberger threw two late interceptions, giving up the game and dropping the Steelers to a .500 season. (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
Cleveland Browns (5-11)
Cleveland Browns (5-11)
The Cleveland Browns selected Trent Richardson in the 2012 NFL Draft. Although part of one of the best quarterback draft classes in years, he couldn't do enough to help the Browns. They started the season with five straight losses and and never recovered. The Browns lost several key players to injury including Colt McCoy and Josh Cribbs. (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images)
Houston Texans (12-4)
Houston Texans (12-4)
The Houston Texans looked like the team to beat in the AFC, winning 12 of their first 14 games. However, the Texans lost their final two games, dropped to the number three seed and failed to secure home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. The team appears to be in a bit of a rut as it enters the post season. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Indianapolis Colts (11-5)
Indianapolis Colts (11-5)
In the offseason last year, the Colts released future hall of fame quarterback Peyton Manning, who was injured for the whole 2011 season, and drafted Andrew Luck. That move immediately paid dividends as Luck broke the NFL rookie passing record. He also led the Colts to a winning season and returned them to the playoffs as a wildcard. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Tennessee Titans (6-10)
Tennessee Titans (6-10)
All the talk this past offseason was about whether running back Chris Johnson would come back to play with the Titans. He finally signed a contract extension worth $53.5 million. But the signing didn't pay off too well as Johnson proved very inconsistent. The Titans defense gave up an average of 127 yards rushing and 247 yards passing per game. The team heads into the offseason looking to make improvements on both sides of the ball. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Jacksonville Jaguars
Jacksonville Jaguars
The Jacksonville Jaguars season mercifully came to an end on Sunday. The Jaguars ranked near the bottom in almost every statistical category in the NFL. The team lost their starting quarterback, Blaine Gabbert, to an elbow injury in November and finished tied for the worst record in the league. The team has earned the No. 2 pick in the upcoming NFL draft but will have a new GM to make that pick after firing Gene Smith. (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
Denver Broncos (13-3)
Denver Broncos (13-3)
Looking for a team in the offseason, Peyton Manning decided the Denver Broncos were the best fit. And he was right. Manning proved he still has what it takes to be an elite quarterback, even after missing the entire 2011 season. He passed for over 4,600 yards and threw 37 touchdowns. The Broncos finished the season tied for the best record in the NFL. They head into the playoffs with an 11-game winning streak and a first-round bye. (Photo by Garrett W. Ellwood/Getty Images)
San Diego Chargers (7-9)
San Diego Chargers (7-9)
The San Diego Chargers entered the season looking to get back into the playoffs. Phillip Rivers and the team suffered a three and a four-game losing streak in the middle of season that proved too much to overcome. The Chargers finished the season (7-9) and head into the offseason without a head coach. Norv Turner was among the coaches fired on Black Monday. (Photo by Matt Sullivan/Getty Images)
Oakland Raiders (4-12)
Oakland Raiders (4-12)
Carson Palmer and the Oakland Raiders were hoping to get back to the playoffs after a 10-year drought. Those hopes were quickly dashed with four losses in the first six weeks. Palmer put up some respectable passing numbers this season, but the Raiders had no ground game to compliment his aerial attack. At the end of the season, the Raiders fired the offensive coordinators and three other assistant coaches. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Kansas City Chiefs (2-14)
Kansas City Chiefs (2-14)
No team in the league had a worse season than the Kansas City Chiefs, posting just two wins. Their starting quarterback, Matt Cassel, was injured half way through, and the fans cheered his injury. The Chiefs also saw LB Jevon Belcher take his own life. At the end of season, head coach Romeo Crennel was fired, though General Manager, Scott Pioli, managed to keep his job. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Washington Redskins (10-6)
Washington Redskins (10-6)
The Washington Redskins selected Robert Griffin III as the No. 2 pick in the 2012 NFL Draft, trading away multiple future draft picks to do so. Questioned by some, this move has revitalized the team, the organization and the fanbase. Griffin proved he can win games with his arm and his legs, making smart decisions in the process. He led the Redskins back to the NFL Playoffs after a 13-year drought. (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)
New York Giants (9-7)
New York Giants (9-7)
After winning the Super Bowl last year, the Giants lost some key players to free agency. Still they started their season (6-2) and enjoyed a two-game advantage in the NFC East. But that lead evaporated in the second half of the season. The team was particularly inconsistent, blowing out playoff contenders one week and losing to mediocre teams the next. Ultimately it's this inconsistency that has the Giants staying home during the playoffs. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Dallas Cowboys (8-8)
Dallas Cowboys (8-8)
The Dallas Cowboys had an up and down 2012 season. In week 13 the Cowboys started a three-game winning streak and looked poised to win the NFC East. They entered week 17 with a win-and-you're-in scenario. But Tony Romo couldn't overcome the surging Redskins, failing again to win the big game. (Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images)
Philadelphia Eagles (4-12)
Philadelphia Eagles (4-12)
Eagles owner Jeff Lurie said before the season started that he wanted to see an improvement or he would make some changes. The Eagles started the season with three wins in the first four weeks, then went on an eight-game losing streak. That sealed Andy Reid's fate. After 14 years on the Eagles sideline, Reid was fired, and the Eagles will start a new era. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)
Green Bay Packers (11-5)
Green Bay Packers (11-5)
After a (15-1) record last season, Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers came back down to earth in the 2012 season. They did pick up another NFC North title. And Rodgers did finish the season with 4,295 yards and 39 touchdowns, well below his 2011 MVP numbers. The Packers earned the No. 3 seed and will host their division rival the Minnesota Vikings in the wild card round of the playoffs. (Photo by Tom Lynn /Getty Images)
Minnesota Vikings (10-6)
Minnesota Vikings (10-6)
This season for the Minnesota Vikings was all about Adrian Peterson, who came back from knee surgery to lead the team to a (10-6) record. He also came within nine yards of Eric Dickerson's single-season rushing record. The team rallied to win their final four games of the season, including a last-minute victory over the division-rival Green Bay Packers in week 17, to earn a playoff berth. (Photo by Andy Clayton King/Getty Images)
Chicago Bears (10-6)
Chicago Bears (10-6)
The Chicago Bears started the season (7-1) and were thought to be Super Bowl contenders. But the Bears went just (3-5) the rest of the season and put their playoff hopes on the Green Bay Packers beating the Vikings in the final game. That didn't happen, and the Bears missed the playoffs. Head coach, Lovie Smith, was subsequently fired. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Detroit Lions (4-12)
Detroit Lions (4-12)
The Lions entered the 2012 season looking to compete with the Packers and Vikings for the NFC North title. And the team had reason to believe it could, with many weapons on both sides of the ball. Wide receiver Calvin Johnson proved to be the only reliable threat, breaking Jerry Rice's single-season receiving yardage record and finishing 36 yards shy of 2000. The Lions season was a bust otherwise, and poor coaching decisions by Jim Schwartz cost the team on multiple occasions. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Atlanta Falcons (13-3)
Atlanta Falcons (13-3)
Matt Ryan and the Atlanta Falcons were on a roll from week one. They started out the season with an eight-game winning streak and finished the season tied for the best record in the NFL. The Falcons earned the number one seed and home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Carolina Panthers (7-9)
Carolina Panthers (7-9)
Quarterback Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers had a tale of two seasons this year. The Panthers started out with just one win in the first eight weeks, essentially eliminating themselves from playoff contention by mid-season. But the team came on strong late, finishing with a four-game winning streak. Newton was the team's top rusher with 741 yards. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
New Orleans Saints (7-9)
New Orleans Saints (7-9)
In the 2012 offseason, the New Orleans Saints were at the center of "Bountygate," which resulted in the suspension of several defensive players and head coach, Sean Peyton. The Saints started the season with four losses and never really climbed back into contention. Drew Brees and the Saints' defense set two NFL records: Brees for surpassing the 5,000-yard mark for the third time in his career and the Saints' defense for giving up the most yards in a season. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7-9)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7-9)
Coming off a (4-12) season, the Bucs hired Rutgers head coach, Greg Schiano, to turn the team into a winning franchise. They also signed wide receiver Vincent Jackson to give young quarterback Josh Freeman a big passing target. Freeman improved as a quarterback, and the Bucs seemed poised to make a playoff run. But a five-game losing streak late in the season dispelled any dreams of playing in the post season. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
San Francisco 49ers (11-4-1)
San Francisco 49ers (11-4-1)
Alex Smith started the season as the 49ers quarterback. He was injured in week 10 and missed the following game as well. So head coach, Jim Harbaugh, started backup Colin Kaepernick. He stuck with Kaepernick for the remainder of the season, even after Smith was cleared to play. The 49ers captured their second straight NFC West title and earned the NFC's No. 2 seed in the playoffs. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Seattle Seahawks (11-5)
Seattle Seahawks (11-5)
With the 75th pick in the 2012 draft, the Seattle Seahawks selected quarterback Russell Wilson from Wisconsin. Wilson proved to be a great pick leading the team to multiple high-scoring victories and tying Peyton Manning's rookie record for the most touchdown passes with 26. The Seahawks made the playoffs as a wildcard and face the Washington Redskins and RG3. (Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images)
St. Louis Rams (7-8-1)
St. Louis Rams (7-8-1)
Despite playing good division rivals tough - most notably the San Francisco 49ers and Seattle Seahawks - Sam Bradford and the St. Louis Rams had a mediocre season. The Rams traveled to London to play in the annual NFL in London game at Wembley Stadium, losing to the Patriots 45-7. (Photo by Kevin Casey/Getty Images)
Arizona Cardinals (5-11)
Arizona Cardinals (5-11)
This year's quarterback carousel happened in Arizona, where head coach, Ken Whisenhunt, started four different players at the position. The Cardinals managed four straight wins to start the season with Kevin Kolb at the helm. But he went down in week six, and the Cardinals started their downward spiral after that. The subsequent nine-game losing streak, with the three other starting QBs, resulted in Whisenhunt's firing at the end of the season. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
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