NFL 2015 Week 16 Recap

NFL 2015 Week 16 Recap

San Diego Chargers at Oakland Raiders was the Thursday night Christmas Eve game. Both teams were done for the year but the Raiders still had a shot at finishing 8-8 on the year. A couple of weeks ago the Raiders had 0 first downs in the first half, but the defense kept them in the game as they won 15-12 at Denver. This was another game where only half of the team showed up for half of the game. After 18 years, Charles Woodson was playing his final home game. Five years from now he will be a first ballot Hall of Famer. The Raiders were desperate to send him out a winner.

Last week the Raiders started in a hole against Green Bay when two Derek Carr interceptions had the Raiders down 14-0. Carr’s aggressiveness is necessary because it leads to many more celebrations that mistakes. Carr came in with 30 touchdown passes and only 11 interceptions. This week, on Oakland’s first drive, a Carr pass was deflected for a fluke interception. The Chargers did not have a single touchdown drive this whole game of substance. They didn’t need one because the Raiders gave them a pair of short field. San Diego began their first drive at the Oakland 32. On 3rd and 9 from the 13, Philip Rivers found Inman for 12 yards. Donald Brown got the last yard to make it 7-0 Chargers. The Raiders took over at their 23 and moved with precision. On 3rd and 17 from the San Diego 44, Carr hit Clive Walford for 22 yards. On the next play Latavius Murray ran for a 22 yard touchdown to tie the game 7-7.

A field position game led to the Raiders committing a facemark penalty on a punt. This allowed the Chargers to start the second quarter at the Oakland 33. On 3rd and 3 from the 7, Rivers hit Inman from the 7 to make it 14-7 Chargers. Again the Raiders responded, moving from their 25. On 3rd and 2 from the San Diego 31, Carr threw deep incomplete. Sebastian Janikowski hit the 50 yard field goal as the Raiders trailed 14-10. With 3 minutes left in the half, the Chargers moved from their 22. With 44 seconds left, on 3rd and 5 from the Oakland 32, a completion from Rivers to Gates came up short. On 4th and 2, Mike McCoy opted for the field goal. Josh Lambo hit from 47 yards as the Chargers took a 17-10 lead into the locker rooms.

The second half was as ugly for the Raiders as the first half was a couple weeks ago. Trailing by 7 points, the Raiders offense scored 0 points in the second half. They did not even make a single first down. Zero first downs in 30 minutes of football. The only thing keeping the Raiders in the game was the defense and stellar punting from Marquette King. Late in the third quarter the Chargers faced 3rd and 13 at their own 6. Rivers went back to pass and was sacked by Autry in the end zone for a safety. The Raiders did nothing with the free kick, trailing 17-12 after three quarters. The fourth quarter began with the Chargers taking over at their own 16. What occurred was the strangest drive of the year for both teams.

With 10 1/2 minutes left, the Chargers faced 3rd and 11 at the Oakland 32. Rivers found Danny Woodhead for 12 yards. On 3rd and 10, Rivers threw incomplete to Woodhead. Woodhead screamed for a pass interference flag and instead drew an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for the Chargers. On 4th and 25 from the Oakland 35, Lambo came in for a 53 yard field goal try rather than a 38 yard chip shot. Either way, the exhausted Raiders defense had survived to keep things within  one score game.

Not so fast. Rambo was good from 53 to make it 20-12, but Khalil Mack was called for defensive holding. This meant an automatic 1st and 10 at the Oakland 30. Mike McCoy took the points off the board and decided to go for the kill shot. Rivers went deep to Green for a 30 yard touchdown. With 9 minutes left, the Chargers led 24-12. The game was over. The Raiders were finished.

Again, not so fast. on further review, the call was reversed and ruled an incomplete pass. This was followed by an offensive holding penalty and another incompletion. Now the Chargers faced 3rd and 20 from the Oakland 40. McCoy played it safe and a short pass from Rivers to Woodhead gained 10 yards and brought the Chargers back into long field goal range. McCoy took Lambo’s 53 yard field goal off the board and just narrowly missed out on the clinching touchdown. Now Lambo had another try, this time from 5 yards closer. From 48 yards out, Lambo was no good. San Diego held the ball for a staggering 18 plays. They took 7 1/2 minutes off the clock. They moved 64 yards before going backward. They scored 0 points out of it.

The completely spent Oakland defense desperately needed a rest. They didn’t get it as the offense went 3 and out. The Chargers took over at their own 10. Woodhead quickly ripped off a 27 yard gain. With 5 minutes left, all the Chargers had to do was run down the clock. Barring a miracle, the Raiders were finished.

Then came the miracle. A short pass from Rivers to Johnson gained 4 yards until Johnson was blasted by Malcolm Smith. Two years ago Smith was the Super Bowl MVP for Seattle. Now he was a hero for the Raiders. Mayowa picked up the fumble for the Raiders and returned it 40 yards all the way to the Oakland 3 yard line. The Chargers scored their two touchdowns with a short field because the Raiders gave them the short field. Now the Chargers were trying to give the game away. On the first play after the turnover, Carr threw a fade route to the corner of the end zone and Michael Crabtree came down with it. On the 2 point conversion try, Carr fired to Seth Roberts in the end zone. A fired up Carr saw the Raiders up 20-17 with 4:41 to play. Carr had been harassed all night. The offensive line could not protect him. Now it was up to the defense.

The defense was just too tired. On 3rd and 1 from the San Diego 29, Woodhead gained 4 yards. At the 2 minute warning, the Chargers faced 3rd and 10 from the Oakland 45. Rivers went deep incomplete, but a killer defensive pass interference penalty on DJ Hayden moved the ball 15 yards into field goal range. With one minute left, On 3rd and 7 from the Oakland 27, Rivers again threw incomplete. This time there was no flag. Rambo came in to tie the game from 45 yards out. This time he was good. The game was tied 20-20 with 49 seconds left.

On 2nd and 6 from the Oakland 34, Carr was called for intentional grounding. It was a terrible call, especially since Rivers was not called for intentional grounding on the previous San Diego drive. Rivers’s practically spiked the ball in the ground, yet was not flagged. Carr pleaded his case to no available. In a cruel twist of fate for the Chargers, they were actually punished by the Oakland penalty in what will surely result in a rule change at the next owners meeting. Normally a penalty on the offense near the end of the game results in a 10-second runoff when the offense is out of timeouts. The Raiders had no timeouts. However, the drive was going so badly that the Chargers wanted to preserve the time to have one more chance with the ball. The Chargers were not allowed to refuse the 10 second runoff. On 4th and 17, there was only 10 seconds left instead of 20 seconds. Because of that, Marquette King hit a booming punt that took the remaining time off the clock. The Raiders had survived the second half with 0 first downs. Now it was time for overtime.

Very few overtime games had a coin toss as critical as this one. The Oakland defense was out of gas but the offense could not function. The Raiders won the coin toss and had to agree to receive. Deferring in overtime is not an option. After a couple failed plays, the Raiders faced 3rd and 7 from their own 23. One more failed play would give the Chargers the ball and a perfect chance to win the game.

Instead, Carr found Andre Holmes for 16 yards. For the first time since the end of the second quarter, the Raiders had a first down. Then the Raiders self-destructed under hail of offensive penalties. On 1st and 10 from the Oakland 39, Donald Penn was called for offensive holding. On 2nd and 14, Carr found Mychel Rivera for 20 yards. It was called back due to offensive holding on Webb. Then came a false start. Now the Raiders faced 2nd and 29 at their own 20. Luckily for the Raiders, they were playing the only team as dumb as they were, perhaps even dumber. Carr found Crabtree for an 8 yard gain. Yet Perryman was called for unnecessary roughness on the defense. Instead of the Raiders facing 3rd and 21, they had 1st and 10 at their own 43. On 3rd and 6 at the Oakland 47, Carr hit Crabtree for 8 yards and another first down. After another false start, the Raiders soon faced 3rd and 8 from the San Diego 43. Then came another miracle.

Carr fired over the middle to Roberts. Roberts had a defender all over him, and the ball bounced off of Roberts high in the air. Somehow, Roberts plucked his own deflection out of the air just before another defender prepared to level him. The defender did not hit Roberts cleanly, allowing him to hold on to the ball, break free, and continue running. When he was finally caught, he dragged a pair of tacklers another 10 yards on sheer will. When Roberts was finally brought down, he had a 33 yard gain. Now the Raiders had 1st and goal at the 10. A touchdown would end the game but a field goal would not. That’s when Charles Woodson came in to play offense.

Jack Del Rio called for a double reverse that would end with Woodson throwing the ball to Carr, who drifted out as a receiver. It was wild, and it did not work. yet Woodson was smart. Rather than risk a foolish throw, Woodson saw that nothing was available and held on to the ball. His only carry in his 18 year career resulted in him being knocked out of bounds for a 3 yard loss. He has never thrown a pass. Yet this was better than a turnover. After a delay of game penalty on Carr, the Raiders faced 3rd and goal at the 18. Carr rolled out, saw nothing, and was not going to force the ball in and risk a turnover. Like Woodson before him, Carr rolled out of bounds. He gained 5 yards, and Seabass came in for the 31 yard chip shot. Seabass was good. The Raiders had held the ball for 8 minutes. The defense finally had gotten some rest. Now the Raiders had the lead. It was up to the defense to end things.

They did. On 4th and 3 from the San Diego 27, with 6 1/2 minutes left in overtime, Rivers threw high to and incomplete to nobody. It was hideously ugly for the second time in three week, but Al Davis was the one who said, “Just win baby.” The Raiders did, and a jubilant Woodson thanked the Oakland Coliseum crowd with a heartfelt postgame speech. The Raiders at 7-8 are out of the playoff race, but a win next week on the road would allow them to finish 8-8. For 18 years, Woodson played winning football with character, heart and, guts. On a night the offense could not get anything going late, the entire defense played for nearly 69 minutes the way Woodson played his entire career. The defense came through. For Charles Woodson and his brothers, it was a Silver and Black Christmas. 23-20 Raiders, OT

Washington Redskins at Philadelphia Eagles was the Saturday night game. The 7-7 Redskins could clinch the NFC Least division with a win, but an Eagles win would set them up for a Week 17 battle with the Giants, where the winner of that game would take the division crown. Both Jay Gruen and Chip Kelly have been under fire, and this game would show which coach strengthened his job security and which one would find the hot seat even hotter.

The Eagles started hot, as Ryan Mathews ran it in from one yard out to cap an 80 yard drive and make it 7-0 Eagles. The Redskins responded by quickly going 69 yards. Kirk Cousins found Reed for a 22 yard touchdown. Dustin Hopkins missed the extra point as the Redskins trailed 7-6. The Redskins got it back and moved 61 yards. Cousins found Reed again for a 12 yard touchdown as the Redskins led 13-7 after a high flying first quarter. The game slowed considerably in the second quarter. Caleb Sturgis hit a 34 yard field goal for the Eagles, and Hopkins responded from 28 after a Sam Bradford fumble gave the Redskins a short field.

The last 30 seconds of the half were bizarre. From the Washington 29, Cousins went deep to DeSean Jackson for 22 yards, Pierre Garcon for 25 more, and Reed for 13 more. With the clock ticking down a delay of game penalty on the defense occurred when a defender prevented the officials from spotting the ball. With 6 seconds left, the Redskins had 1st and goal at the 6. The clock was going to start up again as soon as the ball was spotted. Trying to run an actual play was too risky since the Redskins were out of timeouts. All Cousins had to do was quickly spike the ball and bring in the field goal kicker. Cousins had what can best be described in sports as a brain freeze. Instead of spiking the ball, Cousins got confused and took a knee. When he realized what he had done, it was too late. He did not stop the clock. He ran out the clock, costing the Redskins a gift 3 points. Washington only led 16-10 at the half.

Cousins redeemed himself in the third quarter. The Redskins took over after an exchange of punts at their own 46. On 3rd and 10 from the Philly 44, Cousins hit Pierre Garcon for 17 yards. On 3rd and 14 from the 31, he found Thomas for 15. On 3rd and 6 from the 12, he hit Thompson for the touchdown and the 23-10 Redskins lead. A long kickoff return had the Eagles starting at their own 48. A few plays later, on 3rd and 3 from the 4, DeMarco Murray got the carry and the touchdown as the Eagles only trailed 23-17. The Eagles got the ball back with a chance to take the lead. With 3 minutes left in the third quarter the Eagles faced 3rd and 2 at their own 29. Bradford fumbled the snap out of the shotgun, and it bounced straight to Deangelo Hall. Hall returned the fumble 17 yards for a defensive touchdown in front of a stunned crowd. A close game was broken open as the Redskins led 30-17 after three quarters.

In the fourth quarter the Redskins kept firing. On 3rd and goal from the 13, with the Eagles desperately needing a defensive stop, Cousins found Garcon for the touchdown. Cousins hit Crowder for the 2 point conversion. The 13 play, 8 minute, 82 yard drive had the Redskins up 38-17 with 9 minutes left in regulation.

Now the Eagles were in desperation mode after a touchback. On 4th and 2 from the Philly 28, Bradford found Darren Proles for 4 yards. On 4th and 7 from the Washington 35, Bradford hit Mathews for 24 yards. On 3rd and 7 from the 8, Bradford hit Mathews for the touchdown. The Eagles were within 14 points, but only 4:40 remained. The Eagles used their timeouts and got the ball back after a touchback with 3:18 left. Bradford moved the Eagles down the field. With 1:42 to play, the eagles faced 3rd and 5 at the Washington 26. One touchdown and an onside kick would have the Eagles back in it.

Not this time. Bradford threw incomplete twice as the Redskins finally closed out the game. Bradford threw 56 passes in the loss, completing 37 of them for 380 yards and one touchdown pass. Yet it was Cousins who went 31 of 46 for 365 yards and 4 touchdown passes. Neither quarterback was intercepted. With the loss, the Eagles fell to 6-9 and were eliminated from playoff contention. The Giants were also eliminated as well, since they would lose all tie-breakers. The Redskins at 8-7 finally clinched the division nobody wanted to win. Washington is locked into the number four seed in the NFC. They will host a wildcard playoff game in two weeks. Entering the year looking like the worst team in football, they won their division. 38-24 Redskins

San Francisco 49ers at Detroit Lions — Both of these teams are done for the year. The 49ers moved 80 yards in 11 plays and 5 1/2 minutes. Blaine Gabbert hit McDonald for a one yard touchdown to make it 7-0 49ers. Matt Prater hit a 36 yard field goal to get the Lions within 7-3. Early in the second quarter Matthew Stafford hit Jones for a 29 yard touchdown to cap a 74 yard drive and make it 10-7 Lions. The 49ers came back 82 yards. Gabbers hit Smith for a 16 yard touchdown to make it 14-10 49ers.

With 9 minutes left in the half the 49ers faced 3rd and 8 at their own 12. Gabbers was sacked and fumbled, and the Lions recovered at the San Francisco one yard line. Bell got in one play later for a 17-14 Lions lead. With 6 minutes left in the half Phil Dawson missed a 45 yard field goal that would have tied the game. The 49ers got it back at their own with 2:40 left and quickly moved to the Detroit 22. Gabbers threw three straight incompletions, but this time Dawson connected from 40 to make it 17-17 with 35 seconds left in the half. With 20 seconds left, from the Detroit 39, Stafford went deep to Golden Tate for 36 yards. Prater hit from 38 to put the Lions up 20-17 at halftime.

The second half was all Detroit. In the third quarter the Lions held the ball for 6 1/2 minutes and Prater hit from 37 to make it 23-17 Lions. In the fourth quarter the Lions held the ball for another 7 12 minutes and moved 67 yards in 13 plays. Stafford hit Megatron Calvin Johnson for the touchdown. The 2 point try failed but Prater hit a 34 yard field goal to complete the scoring. After starting 1-7, the Lions have gone 5-2. This may not be enough to save Jim Caldwell, but it should be. The late William Clay Ford was a softie. 90 year old Martha Ford is a tough old bird. Caldwell staying or going is an even money bet. The 49ers were probably keep Jim Tomsula just to avoid admitting they were wrong to get rid of Jim Harbaugh in the first place. 32-17 Lions

Pittsburgh Steelers at Baltimore Ravens — This normally fantastic hard-hitting rivalry took a hit with Baltimore having an uncharacteristically miserable season. Pittsburgh at 9-5 just knocked off Denver and Cincinnati. They are in strong playoff position and even have an outside shot at winning their division. Baltimore is down to third string quarterback Ryan Mallett. Early on the Steelers moved to a 4th and 1 at the Baltimore 25. Mike Tomlin decided to go for it and a run up the middle went nowhere. The Ravens then moved 75 yards in 15 plays and 7 minutes. Mallett hit Matthews for an 8 yard touchdown and a 7-0 Ravens lead.

After a touchback the Steelers moved to a 2nd and 16 at the Baltimore 16. Ben Roethlisberger threw a touchdown to Antonio Brown. Yet on further review the play was reversed incomplete. After another incompletion the Steelers settled for a 34 yard Chris Boswell field goal to start the second quarter. Baltimore responded in similar fashion with a 37 yard Justin Tucker field goal to make it 10-3 Ravens. Tucker added one from 50 to have the Ravens smelling upset with a 13-3 halftime lead.

In the third quarter Deangelo Williams got in from one yard out to cap a 79 yard drive and get the Steelers within 13-10. The Steelers got it back but early in the fourth quarter Ben Roethlisberger was intercepted, setting up Baltimore at the Pittsburgh 42. Mallett found Juszczyk for a 34 yard gain and Allen ran for a three yard touchdown as the Ravens led 20-10 with 10 1/2 minutes left in regulation.  The Steelers moved from their 20 to a 1st and goal at the one. Rather than run the ball, the Steelers called a pass play. Roethlisberger was intercepted by smith, who returned it 101 yards for a Baltimore touchdown and a 27-10 Ravens lead. Or so they thought.

The defense jumped offside. The touchdown was nullified. 2 plays later Williams got in from 2 yards out. The 14 point swing, instead of having the Steelers down 17, had them only down 3 points. Pittsburgh got it back at their own 20 with 3 minutes left. With 1:53 to play, on 4th and 15 from their 37, Big Ben threw deep incomplete. With 12 seconds left, on 4th and 10 from the Pittsburgh 37, John Harbaugh played it ultra safe and punted. With 4 seconds left after a touchback, the Steelers tried the hook and laterals and turned it over. The loss was a serious blow to Pittsburgh’s playoff hopes as the 9-6 Steelers fell one game. They need to now win and get help next week. For John Harbaugh, it was a sweet win against a hated rival. Baltimore had a terrible year, but possibly eliminating Pittsburgh matters. 20-17 Ravens

Dallas Cowboys at Buffalo Bills — These teams are both done for the year. Early on Dan Bailey hit a 46 yard field goal to make it 3-0 Cowboys. The Bills came back 60 yards and Williams got the last yard to make it 6-3 Bills after the missed extra point. Third string quarterback Kellen Moore was not asked to do much, and he got help when a 28 yard punt return had the Cowboys starting at the Buffalo 44. On 3rd and goal at the 4, Moore threw incomplete. Bailey hit from 22 for a 6-6 tie with 5 1/2 minutes left in the half. After a touchback the Bills moved to a 3rd and 1 at the Dallas 4 with 8 seconds left. Buffalo still had one timeout. There was plenty of time to try another play and still kick the field goal. Tyron Taylor was intercepted in the end zone as a disgusted Rex Ryan saw the teams remain tied 6-6 at the break. In the third quarter Dan Carpenter hit a 32 yard field goal as the Bills did take the 9-6 lead. In the fourth quarter the Bills went 92 yards. Gillislee broke off a 50 yard touchdown run to put the game away. 16-6 Bills

Chicago Bears at Tampa Bay Buccaneers — Both of these teams are trending upward but done for the year. Early on the Buccaneers blocked a punt, taking over at the Chicago 4 yard line. One play later Doug Martin ran it in for a 7-0 Buccaneers lead. In the second quarter the Bears moved 68 yards. Carey got the last yard for a 7-7 tie. The Bears would move two more drives inside the Tampa 10 yard line but settle for Robbie Gould field goals of 26 and 27 yards for a 13-7 Bears lead. In the third quarter Jameis Winston threw a 50 yard touchdown to Sims for a 14-13 Buccaneers lead.

Late in the third quarter Martin fumbled, setting up the Bears at the Tampa Bay 23. On the first play of the fourth quarter, Jay Cutler hit Carey for the one yard touchdown and the 20-14 Bears lead. Gould would hit his third and fourth field goals from 50 and 39 yards to put the game out of reach as the Bears led 26-14 with only 1:12 to play. The Bucs actually got a 43 yard Hail Mary touchdown from Winston to Seferian Jenkins, but with only one second remaining. The onside kick didn’t matter because the final second ticked off, with another Hail Mary not being possible. 26-21 Bears

Carolina Panthers at Atlanta Falcons — The 14-0 Panthers were playing for history, but they also still needed to lock up home field through the entire playoffs. The Falcons at 7-7 were clinging to playoff life. Early on Cam Newton moved Carolina 80 yards in 11 plays and 5 1/2 minutes. newton ran for the final 8 yards himself for a 7-0 Panthers lead. The Falcons responded with a staggering 16 play, 80 yard drive that took 9 1/2 minutes off the clock. On the first play of the second quarter, Devonta Freeman ran it in from 4 yards out to make it 7-7. Graham Gano hit a 33 yard field goal in the third quarter. The Panthers led 10-7, but were in a slugfest. One play late in the third quarter changed the game. The Falcons faced 3rd and 13 at their own 30. Matt Ryan went deep with a Hail Mary to Julio Jones, who out jumped and then outraced the defender. The 70 yard touchdown had the Falcons up 14-10.

The Falcons had the momentum and moved to a 3rd and 5 at the Carolina 32. In field goal range, The Falcons suffered a critical false start. On the next play out of the shotgun, a fumbled snap was recovered by Josh Norman and returned 12 yards to the Carolina 36. The Falcons held on defense as Carolina settled for a 47 yard Gano field goal. With 8 minutes left, the unbeaten Carolina season was on the line with the Panthers down 14-13. Matty Ice responded, chewing up 5 1/2 minutes. Shane Graham hit a 37 yard field goal. The Falcons led 17-13, but after a touchback the Panthers still had 2:23 left and one timeout plus the 2 minute warning.

With 1:53 to play after a couple of Newton incompletions, everything came down to 4th and 5 from the Carolina 37. Newton threw incomplete again. The Falcons celebrated. Atlanta owner Arthur Blank mugged for the cameras. Yet the Falcons got lazy and made an incredibly dumb move. After a false start, the Falcons faced 2nd and 13 from the Carolina 40 with 1:44 to play and the Panthers out of timeouts. A couple of runs would take the clock down to almost nothing. The Falcons did run the ball, but committed penalties on both plays. Graham did hit the clutch 54 yard field goal, but instead of the game being over, Carolina was only down by 7 with a full 90 seconds to play.

From the Carolina 39 with one minute left, Newton went back to pass and had the ball knocked out of his hand. The Falcons recovered the fumble. This time they slammed the door shut. Members of the 1972 Dolphins kept insisting that they wanted the Panthers to go 16-0 since Don Shula’s son is on Ron Rivera’s staff. we know better. The 1972 Dolphins are popping champagne corks. The 8-7 Falcons will not be playoff bound, since they were eliminated late Sunday night. while the 14-1 Panthers will not be perfect. The battle of rest versus rust is irrelevant now since the Panthers will now need to play their starters to try and lock up home field throughout the playoffs next week. As ESPN uber-announcer Chris Berman reminds us, “THAT’s why they play the games.” 20-13 Falcons

Indianapolis Colts at Miami Dolphins — The 6-8 Colts are one game back of Houston in the AFC South after losing at home to them last week. Old Man Matt Hasselbeck is still filling in for the injured Andrew Luck. Miami is done for the year. Early on Ryan Tannehill was sacked in the end zone for a safety and a 2-0 Colts lead. After the free kick, Frank Gore ripped off a 37 yard touchdown run. The Colts led 8-0 after the missed extra point. In the second quarter the Dolphins moved 69 yards in 11 plays and 7 minutes. Miller got the last yard. The 2 point conversion try to tie the game failed as the Dolphins trailed 8-6. The Colts managed another 80 yard drive. Gore got the last 11 yards for a 15-6 Colts halftime lead. Unfortunately for the Colts, Hasselbeck was injured on the drive. Third string quarterback Charlie Whitehorse played the second half for the Colts.

Franks hit a 43 yard field goal in the third quarter to get the Dolphins within 15-9. Adam Vinatieri responded from 33 in the fourth quarter to make it 18-9 Colts. After a touchback, the Dolphins moved to a 1st and goal at the 9. After a pair of Tannehill incompletions, the 3rd and goal pass only gained 7 yards. On 4th and goal at the 2, needing 2 scores, interim coach Dan Campbell decided to kick the field goal. Franks hit the 20 yarder, and the Dolphins trailed by 6 with 5 1/2 minutes left.

Miami got it back at their own 20 with 2:48 left and moved quickly to a 1st and goal at the 5 with 40 seconds left. Had the Dolphins scored the touchdown earlier, they would be down 2 points, needing only a field goal to win. Hindsight is 20/20. After 3 straight Tannehill incompletions, everything came down to 4th and goal at the 5 with 27 seconds left. Tannehill was sacked for a 9 yard loss and the Colts survived. The 7-8 Colts still need to win and have Houston lose to make the playoffs. Stephen Ross may blow up the Dolphins after the season, and nobody would object. Jim Irsay may do likewise to Chuck Pagano and the Colts, and virtually everyone not named Jim Irsay would object. 18-12 Colts

New England Patriots at New York Jets — The 9-5 Jets have a decent shot at making the playoffs, but they would have to defeat their biggest nemesis to do it. The 12-2 Patriots with a win would lock up home field throughout the playoffs. Early on a 13 play, 79 yard, 7 minute drive reached the red zone, but the Jets could not finish. A 30 yard Randy Bullock field goal made it 3-0 Jets. The Patriots moved to the red zone but also settled for a 35 yard Stephen Gostkowski field goal for a 3-3 tie in the second quarter.

The Jets responded with a 13 play, 80 yard, 7 minute drive. Ryan Fitzpatrick hit Brandon Marshall for a 2 yard touchdown to make it 10-3 Jets. In the third quarter Fitzpatrick capped off a 61 yard drive with a 33 yard touchdown pass to Marshall for a 17-3 Jets lead. The Patriots moved from their 20 to a 3rd and 8 at the Jets 21. Tom Brady was sacked. Gostkowski hit from 44 but the Patriots still trailed 17-6. With 3 minutes left in the third quarter, the Jets showed why they are the Jets and the Patriots showed why they are the Patriots. On 3rd and 5 from the Jets 25, Fitzpatrick went back to pass, got hit, and fumbled. The ball was returned by Collins for a 14 yard touchdown. While his arm may have been going forward, any game involving the Tuck Rule will give the Patriots the call. Since it was not Tom Brady fumbling, the call stood. Just like that the Patriots were only down 17-13.

The Jets needed to stop the Patriots momentum, and they moved from their 20 to the New England 26. The Patriots held on defense but Bullock hit the clutch 49 yard field goal to make it 20-13 Jets only 90 seconds into the fourth quarter. Earlier this year in New England, the Jets led after three quarters but collapsed in the fourth quarter. Now they were at home, and wanted to continue their four game win streak. The defenses forced each team to punt twice, and with 6 1/2 minutes left the Patriots took over at their own 34.

With 4 minutes left, the Patriots faced 4th and 1 at the Jets 44. One stop would end the game. Brady found Rob Gronkowski for 8 yards. The Patriots then faced 4th and 9 at the Jets 35. One stop would end the game. Brady found Gronkowski for 26 yards to set up 1st and goal at the 9 at the 2 minute warning. These are the Jets. One play later Brady hit White for the touchdown. With 1:55 to play the game was tied 20-20. These are the Jets. The Jets moved after a touchback to midfield, but could not get one more first down to try a long field goal as the game went to overtime. These are the Jets.

Then came the play of the game, and it did not involve football. One day after Washington’s quarterback confused spiking the ball to stop the clock and taking a knee to run out the clock, a far more costly mental meltdown happened. When the Patriots win the coin toss to start a game, they always defer. Yet overtime is different. Barring a blizzard, you have to take the ball first. The Patriots won the toss and had all the momentum. Yet Matthew Slater inexplicably got confused and offered to kick off. The Jets gleefully accepted to receive the ball. Slater tried to correct himself, but it was too late. The referee would not let him change his mind. Holy Phil Luckett and Jerome Bettis, there was another coin toss controversy. The rule is clear. Once Slater offered to defer, the decision was made. The Jets would receive the ball to start overtime. These are the Patriots?

On the second play of overtime, a short pass from Fitzpatrick to Enunwa went for a 48 yard gain. Fitzpatrick 2 plays later found Brandon Marshall for a 20 yard gain to set up 1st and goal at the 6. On the next play, only 5 plays into overtime, Fitzpatrick lobbed a pass to Eric decker in the end zone for the touchdown as the home crowd erupted in celebration. Bill bellichcik contemplated who to fire for not knowing how to teach a guy to handle a coin toss. Slater was the goat, but it was the defense that melted down in the overtime. The 12-3 Patriots will not be resting their starters next week, since they still need to win their regular season finale to clinch home field throughout the playoffs. The 10-5 Jets still need to win next week to even make the playoffs, but Todd Bowles has revitalized them. Gang Green has a tough finale, at Buffalo and Rex Ryan. They lost that game at home, now have to win going away. These are not the same Jets. Fitzpatrick went 26 of 41 for 296 yards, 3 touchdowns and 0 interceptions. He outplayed Tom Brady for the second big Jets overtime win in the last month. 26-20 Jets, OT

Houston Texans at Tennessee Titans — Tennessee is on pace for the first pick in the 2016 Draft. Zach Mettenberger started in place of the injured Marcus Mariota. Houston at 7-7 is one game up in the AFC South after a big win last week at Indianapolis. Houston is down to their third string quarterback as Brandon Weeden started in place of the injured Bryan Hoyer and TJ Yates. Houston has been winning with defense. Early on a Tennessee fumble was returned 33 yards by Winton Demps for a touchdown and a 7-0 Texans lead. Houston then recovered a fumbled Tennessee punt at the Titans 11. The defense held as a 22 yard Nick Novak field goal made it 10-0 Texans.

In the second quarter the Texans moved 65 yards. weeded ran for a 7 yard touchdown to have the Texans up 17-0 at halftime. In the third quarter the Texans moved 80 yards. Weeded hit Hopkins for a 15 yard touchdown for a 24-0 Texans lead against the overmatched Titans. On 3rd and 13 from the Tennessee 32, Mettenberger was intercepted to set up the Texans at the Titans 34. On 3rd and 4 from the 13, Weeden hit Washington for the touchdown and the 31-0 lead. The Texans added one more field goal. Up 34-0, the entire fourth quarter was garbage time. Tennessee did reach the end zone once to avoid the shutout, as the top draft pick remained in site. For Houston, they clinch their division and a playoff spot with a win next week or a loss by Indianapolis. 34-6 Texans

Cleveland Browns at Kansas City Chiefs — Kansas City came in having won eight straight games to get to 9-5 and the thick of the playoff race. Cleveland started Johnny Manziel again in their lost season. Early on West Coast Offense Dink and Dunk Game Manager Alex Smith threw an 11 yard touchdown pass to Jeremy Maclin. The 11 play, 65 yard, 7 minute drive had the Chiefs up 7-0. Cairo santos tacked on a 40 yard field goal to make it 10-0 Chiefs. In the second quarter Travis Coons hit a 45 yard field goal to get the Browns within 10-3. Late in the half the Chiefs moved 56 yards. A 13 yard touchdown pass to Kelce had the Chiefs up 17-3 at the intermission.

The Browns moved 82 yards in the third quarter. Ian Crowell ran for a 10 yard touchdown as the Browns were only down 17-10. The Browns got it back and ran what had to have been the longest drive of the year. The entire 50 years of frustration can be summed up by this drive. The ran 21…yes 21…plays. They held the ball for 12…yes 12…minutes. On 4th and 8 from their own 22, Mike Pettine called a fake punt. It was a crazy decision given how close the game was, but he is coaching like a man who will be fired in 2 weeks anyway. Why not? The call worked and gained 10 yards. With 10 minutes left in regulation. on 4th and 2 from the 10, Pettine decided to go for it. Manuel gained 3 yards. Yet on 2nd and goal from the 8, a holding penalty killed the drive. on 4th and goal from the 18, with 8 12/ minutes left, Pettine did not try anything stupid. Coons hit the 36 yard field goal. The Brows trailed by 4, as their 21 play, 12 minute, drive that moved 73 yards forward and 11 yards backward netted only a field goal.

A mistake on the ensuing kickoff has the Chiefs taking over at their own 3 yard line. The Browns got the ball back at their own 42. On 2nd and 8 from the Chiefs 30, Manziel threw incomplete twice. With 3 minutes left, rather than try a 48 yard field goal and trust his defense, Pettine again decided to go for it. Manziel again threw incomplete. The defense held and the Browns got it back at their own 30 with 1:52 left. With 45 seconds left after spiking the ball to stop the clock, the Browns had 2nd and 10 from the Chiefs 32. A pair of incompletions meant 4th and 10 with 15 seconds left. Manuel found Jennings for a 14 yard gain, but Jennings did not get out of bounds and the clock ran out. This is why they lose the games. The Chiefs have won 9 straight and clinched a playoff spot. They can even steal the AFC West with help next week. Alex Smith remains the new Trent Dilfer, going 15 of 22 for 125 yards 2 touchdowns and one interception. The pathetic dink and dunk Alex Smith offense is fine with Walrus Lite Andy Reid as long as the team wins. 17-13 Chiefs

Jacksonville Jaguars at New Orleans Saints — The Jaguars were mathematically eliminated from playoff contention just before kickoff, while the Saints had been out of it for a couple weeks. After a decade, the team of Sean Payton and Drew Brees may be leading their final home in the Superdome. They made it worthwhile. Brees led an 80 yard drive and threw a 17 yard touchdown pass to Hoomanawanui for a 7-0 Saints lead. The Saints got it back at their own 2. The best way to move 98 yards is with Brees. After creeping slowly for 6 minutes, Brees connected with Cooks for a 71 yard touchdown and a 14-0 Saints lead.

The second quarter began with Blake Bortles being intercepted, setting up the Saints at the Jacksonville 43. Tim Hightower got the last yard for a 21-0 Saints lead. Bortles was then intercepted again for another Saints short field at the Jacksnnville 46. On 2nd and 4 from the 19, Brees threw incomplete twice. Kai forbath hit the 37 yard field goal to make it 24-0 Saints.

Bortles did move the Jaguars 80 yards and threw a 2 yard touchdown pass to Lee. The 2 point try failed but the Jaguars were within 24-6 with 1:26 left in the half. Forbath missed a 52 yard field goal to end the half. In the third quarter Bortles hit Alex Hurns for a 6 yard touchdown to cap an 11 play, 80 yard, 6 minute drive and get the Jaguars within 24-13.

The Saints on this day had too much firepower for the Jaguars. The Saints moved 80 yards and Brees hit Cadet for a 44 yard touchdown to make it 31-13 Saints. The Jaguars took over at their own 10. Bortles connected with Robinson on an 80 yard touchdown as the Jaguars trailed 31-20 after three quarters.

The Saints put it away in the fourth quarter with a 13 play, 88 yard, 7 minute drive. Tim Hightower got the last 5 yards for a 38-20 Saints lead. Bortles threw a 20 yard touchdown to Hurns to cap an 80 yard drive but it was not nearly enough. Bortles was 27 of 35 for 368 yards, 4 touchdowns and 2 interceptions. Brees was magnificent, going 25 of 36 for 412 yards, 3 touchdowns, and 0 interceptions. If this was the end for Brees and Payton in New Orleans, it was a sweet sendoff. 38-27 Saints

Green Bay Packers at Arizona Cardinals In the game of the day, the 10-4 Packers traveled to face the 12-2 Cardinals. Both teams had a lot riding on this game. The Packers came in one game ahead of Minnesota in the NFC North. Green Bay had clinched a playoff spot but not their division. A win in this game with some help would give the Packers an outside chance at a 1st round bye. The Cardinals had clinched their division but not the 1st round bye. With Carolina losing earlier in the day to snap their unbeaten season, Arizona even had an outside chance at home field throughout the playoffs. Then the mathematicians took a seat and the football players played football.

After the Cardinals punted, the Packers took over at their own 40 and soon had 2nd and 3 at the Arizona 39. A 12 yard completion was nullified by offensive holding to kill the drive. The Cardinals moved from their own 5 to a 3rd and 4 at the Green Bay 29. Carson Palmer was then sacked for a 9 yard loss as both teams went from field goal range to punting. A facemark penalty on the Packers on another punt and the Cardinals taking over at midfield. The second quarter began with the Cardinals facing 3rd and goal at then 3. Palmer hit Larry Fitzgerald for the touchdown and the 7-0 Cardinals lead. The Cardinals got it back and moved from their 27 to 3rd and goal at the one. Palmer threw incomplete. Bruce Arians took no chances. The home crowd did not like it, but on 4th and goal from the one Chandler Catanzaro hit the 19 yard field goal to make it 10-0 Cardinals.

The Cardinals got it back and moved 80 yards as Palmer hit Brown for a 7 yard touchdown to make it 17-0 Cardinals at halftime. The Packers then just self-destructed. On the first play of the third quarter after a touchback, Starks fumbled and the Cardinals took over at the Green Bay 28. Two plays later David Johnson ran for a 14 yard touchdown to make it 24-0 Cardinals. The Packers got it back at their 9, soon faced 3rd and 17 at their own 2, saw Rodgers complete a 30 yard pass, and then faced 3rd and 7 just past midfield. Rodgers was sacked, fumbled, and Redding picked it up and raced 36 yards for another touchdown and a 31-0 Cardinals lead.

Rodgers would throw for one touchdown to avoid the shutout, but on the next Green Bay drive Rodgers was sacked again and fumbled again. Powers took it for the 7 yard touchdown. The Cardinals have an explosive offense but 2 defensive touchdowns completed the blowout. Mike McCarthy yanked Rodgers for his own safety as Scott Tolzien played the fourth quarter. The Cardinals sacked Rodgers eight times and added a ninth sack against Tolzien. The Packers at 10-5 now faced a do or die showdown next week against Minnesota in Green Bay. The winner takes the NFC North. The 13-2 Cardinals locked up the first round bye. If they win next week and Carolina loses, Arizona would have home field throughout the playoffs. 38-8 Cardinals

St. Louis Rams at Seattle Seahawks — The Rams are done for the year while the Seahawks came in winners of 5 straight and a 9-5 record that had them all but in the playoffs. With the Rams down to the third string quarterback Case Kennum, the Rams appeared to have not shot. The Seahawks have the Legion of Boom, but early on it was the Rams defense getting the job done. A field position game had the Rams beginning their second drive at midfield. On 4th and 1 from the Seattle 25, Jeff Fisher played it safe on the road. Greg Zuerlein hit the 42 yard field goal to make it 3-0 Rams. Seattle soon faced 3rd and 1 at midfield. With Marshawn Lynch and Thomas Rawls both out injured, the Seahawks trusted their third string running back. The resulting fumble was returned 45 yards for a touchdown and a 10-0 Rams lead.

Midway through the second quarter the Seahawks punted on 4th and 21 from their own 8. Tavon Austin returned the punt 21 yards to the Seattle 28. One play later Keenum went deep to Kenny Britt for the touchdown in front of a stunned home crowd. The extra point was no good but the Rams led 16-0. After the touchback the Seahawks took 16 plays to move 72 yards to a 1st and goal at the 8 with 30 seconds left in the half. Russell Wilson threw three straight incompletions. After 7 minutes, the Seahawks settled for a 26 yard Steve Hauschka field goal as they trailed 16-3 at halftime.

In the third quarter the Seahawks took another 6 1/2 minutes and 11 plays to go 67 yards, but they finally finished a drive after getting a couple major breaks. On 3rd and 7 from the Seattle 48, Wilson threw incomplete but a roughing the passer penalty kept the drive going. Penalties on the Seahawks had them facing 3rd and 31 from their own 42. Wilson went deep to Doug Baldwin for 28 yards. On 4th and 3 from the Rams 30, Pete Carroll decided to go for it. Wilson hit Helmet for 13 yards. On 3rd and 18 from the 25 after a sack, Wilson hit Baldwin for the touchdown. The Seahawks were only down 16-10 and the inevitable Rams collapse was coming.

Not on this day. The Rams moved 62 yards in 11 plays and 5 1/2 minutes. A ton of luck was on their side as they fumbled twice but retained possession both times. With 10 1/2 minutes left in regulation, on 3rd and goal at the 2, Todd Gurley banged in for the touchdown as the Rams had a 23-10 lead.

The Seahawks moved from their 23 to a 3rd and 2 at the Rams 34. Wilson then fumbled the snap from center, resulting in a 15 yard loss. The Seahawks got it back at midfield with 4:46 to play. From the Rams 31, Wilson scrambled for a 21 yard gain and appeared to fumble at the end. Jeff Fisher challenged the call and won. Instead of 1st and goal at the 10 for the Seahawks, the Rams had the ball at their own 8 with 2:38 left. The Seahawks took their timeouts on defense. A 36 yard punt and a 13 yard return had the Seahawks taking over at the Rams 35, but only 1:07 remained. Wilson threw an 18 yard touchdown pass to Jermaine Kearse, but only 17 seconds remained. The Seahawks needed a successful onside kick followed by a Hail Mary.

This was not the NFC Title Game. The ball was kicked out of bounds. Despite the losing record and being on the hot seat and not knowing where they will play next year, Jeff Fisher’s Rams swept Pete Carroll’s Seahawks. Seattle dropped to 9-6 but clinched a playoff spot anyway. 23-10 Rams

New York Giants at Minnesota Vikings was the Sunday night game. The Giants were eliminated from playoff contention one night earlier when Washington beat Philadelphia clinched the division. Odell Beckham is suspended for one game while Tom Coughlin is on the hot seat with a 6-8 team missing the playoffs four straight years. The Vikings came in 9-5, knowing Green Bay had lost earlier in the day. A Minnesota win would mean a tie atop the NFC North with a major division showdown next week in Green Bay. The first quarter was a slugfest, with a 32 yard Blair Walsh field goal being the only score. By halftime, the game was a blowout.

In the second quarter, a field position game had the Vikings starting at the Giants 44. Bridgewater went deep to Kyle Rudolph for a 28 yard touchdown to make it 10-0 Vikings. Josh Brown hit a 27 yard field goal and the Giants got the ball back. With 4 minutes left in the half and the Giants only down 10-3, Big Blue faced 3rd and 1 at their 20. Eli Manning was intercepted for the second time, and Smith returned it 35 yards for a touchdown. The missed extra point left the score 16-3 Vikings. The Vikings got it back at their own 43 with 1:05 left in the half. Walsh hit a 52 yard field goal to end the half with the Vikings up 19-3.

In the third quarter the Vikings poured it on. A 22 yard field goal by Walsh was followed by Manning’s third interception. Captain Mannerly returned it 32 yards to the Giants 4 yard line. Adrian Peterson got in from 2 yards out to make it 29-3 Vikings. Walsh hit his fourth field goal from 53 yards to make it 32-3 Vikings.

The Giants did get a 72 yard touchdown bomb from Manning, but the failed onside kick had the Vikings at the Giants 27. On 3rd and goal from the 7 to start the fourth quarter, McKinnon got it to make it 39-10 Vikings. Walsh added his fifth field from 27 to make it 42-10 Vikings. McKinnon then raced for a 68 yard touchdown as the Vikings led 49-10. Manning did not come out for the final series, having been beaten up enough. Giants backup Ryan Nassib threw a garbage time touchdown to complete the scoring. The 6-9 Giants will have a major decision to make regarding Tom Coughlin, who does not want to retire. As for Mike Zimmer’s 10-5 Vikings, they are in the playoffs. Next week they are at archival Green Bay where the winner takes the NFC North crown. 49-17 Vikings

Cincinnati Bengals at Denver Broncos was the Monday night game. This was a big one for 11-3 Cincinnati and 10-4 Denver. These teams would need to get through their game without Red Rifle Andy Dalton or Peyton Manning. AJ McCarron and Brock Osweiler had to get the job done. The Bengals have already clinched their division but not a first round bye. The Broncos had not even clinched a playoff spot. Both of these teams had a chance at the top seed in the AFC and home field throughout the playoffs, but they could both miss the first round bye altogether. Denver could even miss the playoffs. Denver had not even wrapped up the AFC West. At this point the calculators were sent to bed so the guy who hit each other could get down to the business of hitting each other.

Early on it was all Bengals. Cincinnati 80 yards in 15 plays over 7 1/2 minutes. McCarron threw a 5 yard touchdown pass to AJ Green to make it 7-0 Bengals. In the second quarter Cincinnati moved 90 yards in 13 plays, taking nearly 8 minutes to do it. Mohammed Sanu ran it in from 6 yards out to make it 14-0 Bengals. Cincinnati had ll the momentum and was completely dominating the game. Then Mike Nugent missed a 45 yard field goal with 2 1/2 minutes left in the half that would have extended the lead to 17-0. The Broncos finally came to life, reaching 1st and goal at the 7. They settled for a 23 yard Brandon McManus field goal to trail 14-3 at halftime.

The Broncos took the second half kickoff and moved 81 yards in 11 plays. On 3rd and 3 from the Cincinnati 8, Osweiler hit Emanuel Sanders for the touchdown as the Broncos only trailed 14-10. A defensive slugfest field position game had the Broncos taking over at the Cincinnati 48 with 12 minutes left in regulation. CJ Anderson broke free for a 39 yard touchdown as the Broncos had their first lead of the game up 17-14.

The Bengals took over and soon faced 3rd and 16 at their own 14. McCarron hit Sanu for 20 yards. On 3rd and 8 from the Cincinnati 46, McCarron hit Kroft for 15. On 1st and 5 from the Denver 34, McCarron threw 3 straight incompletions. The third down pass was the home run ball to the end zone that just missed being a touchdown bomb. Nugent hit the critical 52 yard field goal and the game was tied 17-17 with 6:40 to play.

The Broncos moved methodically from their 19 to the Cincinnati 32 with 4 minutes to play. The Broncos were already in long field goal range. Anderson got the carry, gained 5 yards, and then got blasted. The Bengals recovered the resulting fumble at their own 26. After converting one third down, McCarron was sacked to kill the drive. The Broncos took over after a touchback with 1:51 to play and 2 timeouts.

Ostweiler threw a pair of perfect passes to Owen Daniels for gains of 16 and 26 yards and Bennie Fowler for 13 more to the Cincinnati 25. With the Bengals taking their last timeout, Gary Kubiak took no chances. Osweiler took a 3 yard loss just to make sure the ball was centered perfectly on the correct hashmark. McManus came in for the 45 yarder to win it. McManus missed by a country mile. The hold was perfect. He hooked it as far wide left as possible. The game went to overtime and the coin toss went off without incident. The Broncos won the toss and elected to receive.

After a touchback, a pair of Osweiler incompletions set up 3rd and 10. Osweiler found Daniels for 12. On 2nd and 9 from the Denver 33, a completion to Green came up one yard short. Yet an incredible;y dumb personal foul on Vontez Burfict killed the Bengals. On 3rd and 3 from the Cincinnati 37, Osweiler fired a laser to Denarius Thomas, who made a one-handed catch for a 5 yard gain. After a pass was deflected and nearly intercepted, Osweiler found Thomas for a 12 yard gain to the Cincinnati 20. Osweiler fired to Daniels at the 3 yard line, but Daniels got blasted for an incompletion to set up 3rd and 9. Osweiler fired to the end zone incomplete. McManus came in for a 37 yard try to redeem himself. This time McManus was good. The Broncos had the lead, but the Bengals would get one chance with the ball.

A good kickoff return had the Bengals starting at their own 33. AJ McCarron got nailed on a blindside hit just as he was throwing the ball. Gary Kubiak insisted the ball was fumbled, but the referees upheld the incomplete pass call. It did not matter. On the next play out of the shotgun, McCarron fumbled the snap and the Broncos recovered. It was a stunning way to end the game. Both teams are 11-4. Right now the Broncos have the two seed and the first round bye, with the Bengals as the three seed. The Broncos can go as high as the top seed and home field throughout but could also lose the AFC West and tumble to the wildcard. The Bengals can go as high as the two seed but are guaranteed at least one home playoff game. As bad as AJ McCarron feels right now, he is still the quarterback of an 11-4 playoff bound team who gets to sleep with Miss Alabama every night. He will be fine. 23-20 Broncos, OT


Comments are closed.