Week 16 in the NFL had dramatic finishes and unceremonious exits from the playoff picture. Some teams sustained their hopes while others saw their immediate goals realized. Time to get through all of the happenings and implications. It’s time for The Final Drive!
(6-9) Buffalo Bills 19
(8-7) Miami Dolphins 0
I’m sorry to every Dolphin fan that had to watch as their team shat themselves with the playoffs on the line. (I feel your pain.) This was an especially sorry performance, given that it was versus the Bills… quarterbacked by Thaddeus Lewis. Miami’s offense had a paltry 103 total yards, racked up six penalties, and allowed seven sacks of Ryan Tannehill. Because of an injury, Tannehill gave way to Matt Moore, who tarnished his back-up sheen by throwing two interceptions. Way to go Miami. They’ll get another shot to get in this next weekend, but they’ll need a little help.
(10-5) Cincinnati Bengals 42
(4-10-1) Minnesota Vikings 14
The Bengals rebounded nicely from last week’s debacle, scoring 28 points in the first half and shutting down the Vikings passing game. They forced three interceptions from Matt Cassel and held Adrian Peterson to only 45 yards on the ground. Cincy may be more wounded than they’d like, but they’re now the AFC North Champion and still have a shot to be the two seed.
(10-5) Indianapolis Colts 23
(11-4) Kansas City Chiefs 7
Huh. Well, I didn’t really see that one coming. This potential round one match-up looks a lot more interesting now, doesn’t it? Alex Smith played a lot like the Alex Smith I’ve come to know and mistrust, with two costly interceptions and a lack of downfield throws. KC showed some issues along the offensive line, especially on the left side, where number one pick Eric Fisher resides. The Chiefs have to adjust their protections before stepping into the postseason against the Colts, who just one-upped them.
(7-8) St. Louis Rams 23
(4-11) Tampa Bay Buccaneers 13
(7-8) New York Jets 24
(4-11) Cleveland Browns 13
The Jets have won seven games. THE JETS.
(8-7) Dallas Cowboys 24
(3-12) Washington Offensive Names 23
So Tony Romo threw a costly interception in the fourth quarter, but he came back to lead his team to the go-ahead touchdown with just over a minute left in the game. This proves once again that he is, in fact, clutch. And now Cowboy fans will have the endure a painful finale without him, as he’s reportedly dealing with a herniated disk in his back and will miss the rest of the season. Have fun with Kyle Orton, y’all. He sucks. Trust me, I know.
(11-4) Carolina Panthers 17
(10-5) New Orleans Saints 13
Did anyone else see all the flak headed Cam Newton’s way before he straight up fooled the Saints defense on that final drive? It was hysterical. I’ve been a huge fan of Newton this season, but this is one of those games he needed to win. The Saints out-rushed and out-passed the Panthers, but Drew Brees’ two interceptions proved the most significant factor in their loss.
(6-9) Tennessee Titans 20
(4-11) Jacksonville Jaguars 16
(12-3) Denver Broncos 37
(2-13) Houston Texans 13
Peyton Manning all but cemented his claim to the MVP trophy when he threw his 51st touchdown of the season against the gutter-trash Texans. (Whoah, that was harsh. Who said that?) Hidden underneath the accolade is the news that Von Miller tore his ACL and is out for the season. The Broncos have plenty of experience without Miller thanks to his substance suspension to start the season, but they’re going to miss his dynamic pass rushing come playoff time.
(6-9) New York Giants 23
(7-8) Detroit Lions 20
The Lions played themselves right out of the playoffs, losing five of their last six games. In this overtime loss, their three turnovers (two Stafford INT’s, one fumble from Reggie Bush) and seven penalties were their undoing. I don’t see how Jim Schwartz keeps his job with such an undisciplined crew. But we can’t overlook how god awful Matthew Stafford looked in their biggest game of the year.
(10-5) Arizona Cardinals 17
(12-3) Seattle Seahawks 10
Arizona wowed everyone by going into Seattle and ruining the Seahawks’ perfect home record. They played stout defense, notching four sacks of Russell Wilson and forcing two turnovers. That somehow was enough for the Cardinals to overcome four turnovers of their own and stay alive in the NFC playoff race.
(7-8) Pittsburgh Steelers 38
(7-7-1) Green Bay Packers 31
Well this was just an insane ending. There was a blocked kick, an illegal batting penalty, and a ten second run-off that Matt Flynn seemed blissfully unaware of as he threw the final incompletion of the game. The Packers and the Steelers are both alive for the playoffs, oddly enough.
(8-7) San Diego Chargers 26
(4-11) Oakland Raiders 13
The Chargers win at home and still have an outside shot at the postseason. And truth be told, I’m rooting for them. I want to see Philip Rivers throw interceptions in the postseason. I bet they taste like candy.
(11-4) New England Patriots 41
(8-7) Baltimore Ravens 7
That was a masterful pounding administered by Brady and the Pats. The Ravens were just giving points away as it ended though, with fumble and interception returns for touchdowns as the final scores of the game. Now the Patriots are ready to secure at least a two seed if they can win next week. For now, they’re the AFC East Champions. The Ravens aren’t out of the race yet, but they’re obviously not as dangerous as some were making them out to be.
(11-4) San Francisco 49ers 34
(4-11) Atlanta Falcons 24
What was an early Falcon lead turned into a failed Falcon comeback even after Atlanta pulled off a wicked onside kick. But a tipped pass off Harry Douglas’ hands found a streaking Navorro Bowman, who ran it back 89 yards for the score. That capped off what is likely the final game in Candlestick Park’s history. Now the Niners might not know when they’ll be playing in the playoffs, but they at least know they will be.
And I’m done for the night. Have a great holiday everyone! I’ll be back later in the week for The Opening Drive of week 17!