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NFL 2017-2018 Divisionals Recap

Sunday, January 14th, 2018

NFL 2017-2018 Divisionals Recap

Atlanta Falcons at Philadelphia Eagles was the Saturday afternoon game. With Reggie White and Jerome Brown watching from heaven, the Eagles tried to get it done without Carson Wentz. On the first play from scrimmage, Nick Foles threw a bomb and drew a defensive pass interference penalty. On the second play from scrimmage, Jay Ajayi fumbled the ball away. The Falcons moved 59 yards in 11 plays and 5 1/2 minutes. Matt Bryant snuck a 33 yard field goal inside the upright for a 3-0 Falcons lead. In the second quarter the Eagles moved 86 yards in 14 plays and 7 minutes. On 4th and goal at the one, Doug Pederson decided to go for it. LaGuerette Blount got in to make it 6-3 Eagles. The extra point doinked off the upright no good. The Falcons got a break when the Eagles fumbled a punt and the Falcons fumbled at the Philadelphia 18. On 3rd and goal 6, Matt Ryan hit Devontae Freeman for the touchdown to make it a 10-6 Falcons lead.

For the rest of the game, everyone on went to sleep except Philadelphia kicker Jake Elliott and the Philadelphia defense. Despite his missed extra point, his field goals were the difference. Elliot hit from 53 to end the half, from 37 in the third quarter, and from 21 in the fourth quarter to cap a 14 play, 8 minute, 80 yard drive and give the Eagles a 5 point lead. The last one came when Doug Pederson decided not to gamble on 4th and 1 from the Atlanta 3 with 6 minutes left. With 3 1/2 minutes left the Falcons faced 4th and 6 at their own 42. Ryan hit jones for 20 yards. With one minute left everything came down to one play, 4th and goal at the 2. Ryan went to Jones, who slipped and fell as the pass was incomplete. The Eagles survived on defense and will host next week’s NFC Title Game. 15-10 Eagles

Tennessee Titans at New England Patriots was the Saturday night game. This was supposed to be the men against the boys.The Patriots were supposed to easily dispatch the overmatched Titans. Early on the Titans moved 95 yards in 11 plays and 5 1/2 minutes. Marcus Mariota hit Davis for a 15 yard touchdown as the Titans actually led 7-0 after the first quarter. Then reality set in. In the second quarter Tom Brady hit White for a 5 yard touchdown to cap a 73 yard drive to tie the game. A short punt had the Patriots taking over at the Tennessee 48. White ran for a 6 yard touchdown and a 14-7 Patriots lead they would not relinquish. New England got back and had a staggering 16 play, 91 yard drive that took 5 1/2 minutes. Brady hit Chris Hogan for a 4 yard touchdown for a 21-7 Patriots halftime lead. Last week Tennessee overcame a 21-3 halftime deficit, but this game was the men against the boys.

In the third quarter the Patriots quickly put the game away on a 56 yard drive. Bolden ran for a 2 yard touchdown to make it 28-7 Patriots. In the fourth quarter the Patriots had another 90 yard drive, needing 15 plays and 7 minutes. Brady hit Rob Gronkowski for a 4 yard touchdown to make it 35-7 Patriots. Tennessee would finally get in the end zone again, but this game was expected to be a blowout and it was. New England is in the AFC Title Game for the 7th straight year, an NFL record. They have had 17 straight winning seasons, and 15 straight double digit seasons and playoff appearances. 35-14 Patriots

Jacksonville Jaguars at Pittsburgh Steelers was the Sunday morning game. Earlier in the season Jacksonville went into Pittsburgh and shocked them 30-9, as Sacksonville intercepted Ben Roethisberger 5 times. Yet in cold weather, surely the Steelers would make amends. To quote uber-announcer Chris Berman, “That’s why they play the games.” Jacksonville came out with three straight play-action passes that all worked. On 3rd and goal at the 2, Blake Bortles threw incomplete. Doug Marrone showed major cojones by deciding to go for it on 4th and goal at the 2 on the road. Even more gutsy was a decision to run the ball. Leonard Fournette got the carry and went airborne like Marcus Allen and broke the plane of the goal for a touchdown and a 7-0 Jaguars lead. Then Jacksonville unleashed its defense. With Pittsburgh facing 3rd and 11 at its own 10, a short pass by Big Ben was deflected and then intercepted by Myles Jack. The acrobatic interception by Jack, who somehow got both feet down inbounds, set up Jacksonville at the Pittsburgh 18. One play later, Fournette took a handle off right tackle and got all the way past the pylon again for another touchdown and a 14-0 Jaguars lead in front of a shellshocked home crowd.

The Steelers then drove to a 4th and inches at the Jacksonville 20. We then saw the difference between the two teams in terms of players and coaching. Jacksonville jumped offside, but the Pittsburgh center never snapped the ball, allowing the defender to get back onside. Jacksonville smartly called timeout to try and resolve their confusion. Mike Tomlin decided to go for it. Rather than have Big Ben sneak across, offensive coordinator Todd Haley called a pitchout. The lateral run was blown up in the backfield by 3 Jacksonville defenders for a 5 yard loss. Jacksonville kept rolling, going 75 yards in 11 plays. TJ Yeldon ran for a 4 yard touchdown in the second quarter as the Jaguars built a 21-0 lead.

Pittsburgh finally got a spark when Toussaint returned the ensuing kickoff 34 yards to the Pittsburgh 36. On 3rd and 7 from the Jacksonville 33, Roethlisberger hit Rogers for a 10 yard touchdown. On the next play Roethlisberger went deep to Antonio Brown. Despite being well covered, Brown made the great catch for the touchdown to get the Steelers on the board down 21-7. Pittsburgh got it back and with 2 1/2 minutes left in the half had the ball at the Jacksonville 47. Roethlisberger went back to pass and was hit and fumbled. The ball was picked up at midfield by Smith, who raced for a defensive touchdown and a 28-7 Jaguars lead.

A taunting penalty on the Jaguars after the touchdown meant a short kickoff and a 22 yard return that had the Steelers taking over just shy of midfield. With 30 seconds left in the half, the Steelers faced 4th and 11 at the Jacksonville 36. A 54 yard field goal try in the cold is not easy so Mike Tomlin decided to go for it. Roethlisberger went for it all and Martavius Bryant made the touchdown catch as the Steelers were only down 28-14 at halftime. The Steelers took the second half kickoff and soon faced 3rd and 1 at their own 32. Roethlisberger hit Vance McDonald for 2 yards. On the next play a terrible personal foul call on Jacksonville had Pittsburgh at the Jacksonville 47. Contact was made, but Juju Smith-schuster shoved the defender into the receiver and officials missed that. On 3rd and 9 from the Pittsburgh 19, Roethlisberger went to LeVeon Bell for the touchdown. 3 great catches had the Steelers right back in it down 28-21 after three quarters.

The Steelers had all the momentum and the home crowd exploded at the start of the fourth quarter when the Steelers partially blocked a Jacksonville punt. Pittsburgh took over at the Jacksonville 48. Bell gained 6 and 3 but on 3rd and 1 got stopped. Mike Tomlin again went for it on 4th and 1 from the Jags 39 and another awful play call by Todd Haley doomed the Steelers. Rather than bang it ahead, Big Ben threw deep incomplete. On 3rd and 8 from the Jacksonville 41, Bortles found Marques Lee for 11 yards. On the next play Bortles went for it all deep, and Cole out-jumped double coverage for a 45 yard gain to set up 1st and goal at the 3. On the next play Fournette ran it up the gut for the score to make it 35-21 Jaguars with 10 1/2 minutes left in regulation.

Every time it looked like the Steelers would tie it, Jacksonville broke free. Yet every time it looked like Jacksonville would put the game away, Pittsburgh came back. After a touchback, Roethlisberger hit Brown for 27 yards. On 2nd and 5 from the Jags 43, twice Big Ben threw incomplete and was lucky not to be intercepted. Again Mike Tomlin decided to go for it and again Todd Haley had a terrible play call. Yet this time it worked as Roethlisberger avoided a sack and threw it deep again. Brown caught it in the end zone for a 43 yard touchdown. Again, the defense was good. Again, the Pittsburgh receivers caught a perfectly thrown ball. Roethlisberger’s 4th touchdown pass had the Steelers within 35-28 with a full 9 minutes remaining.

Last week at home Jacksonville’s defense won an hideously ugly 10-3 slugfest. This week their offense was up to the challenge on the road. On 3rd and 5 from their own 30, Bortles found Yeldon for a swing pass that went for a 40 yard gain. On 3rd and 4 from the Pittsburgh 24, Bortles hit Westbrook for an 8 yard gain. In easy field goal range and expected to just grind down the clock, a perfectly executed play action pass allowed Bortles to hit a wide open Bohanon for a 14 yard touchdown. With 4:24 to play, the Jaguars led 42-28.

Pittsburgh soon faced 3rd and 10 at their own 25. Roethlisberger hit McDonald fro 15 yards. On 3rd and 10 from the Pittsburgh 40, Roethlisberger scrambled for 15 yards. On 3rd and 5 from the Pittsburgh 18, Roethlisberger, scrambled for 9 yards. From the 9, Roethlisberger scrambled, crossed the line of scrimmage, pitched the ball to Bell, and Bell took it 8 yards for the score. Because Roethlisberger’s pass was a backward lateral, it was perfectly legal. With 2:18 to play the Steelers were within 42-35. Despite 2 timeouts and the 2 minute warning, Mike Tomlin went for the onside kick, sowing zero confidence in his defense.

The onside kick only went 5 yards and Jacksonville recovered. On 4th and 1 from the Pittsburgh 27, Josh Lambo came in for a 45 yard field goal to ice the game. Lambo was good, and the Jaguars led 45-35 with 1:45 left. Pittsburgh soon faced 4th and 10 at their own 25. Roethlisberger hit McDonald for 12 yards. A 42 yard completion to Bryant set up 1st and goal at the 5 with 47 seconds left. Intentional grounding on the next play cost the Steelers a 10 second runoff. Needing 2 scores, the Steelers could have kicked the field goal because they needed an onside kick anyway. Instead, Todd Haley called a West Coast Offense sideways pass that gained 11 yards but kept the clock running. On 3rd and goal from the 4, a pass to the end zone bounced off the fingertips of Xavier Grimble. On 4th and goal, Big Ben hit Smith-Schuster for the score but only one second remained. One failed onside kick later, Jacksonville finally had the stunning upset to earn the right to travel to New England for the AFC Title Game. Bortles finishes a pedestrian 14 of 26 for only 214 yards and one touchdown, but he did not thrown an interception. Roethlisberger threw 58 passes and completed 37 of them for a staggering 469 yards, 5 touchdowns, and the early interception. Yet it was the Jaguars that had the win, courtesy of their offense. 45-42 Jaguars

New Orleans Saints at Minnesota Vikings was the Sunday afternoon game. The Saints brought the offense and the Vikings brought the defense. The Saints went 3 and out and a 19 yard punt return by Sherels had the Vikings starting at their own 45. Latavius Murray ran for 4 and 5 and on 3rd and 1 appeared short of the sticks. Yet he got a very generous spot and Sean Payton did not challenge it. On 3rd and 3 from the Saints 38, Case Keenum went deep to Wright for 22 yards. McKinnon got around the end for a 14 yard touchdown to make it 7-0 Vikings. Minnesota got it back and soon faced 3rd and 7 at their own 23. Keenum hit Diggs for 17 yards. Then Keenum threw deep incomplete twice, and both times drew defensive pass interference calls of 20 and 34 yards. Yet on 3rd and goal at the one, rather than play smash mouth, Keenum lined up in the shotgun and threw incomplete. Mike Zimmer decided to play it very safe. Kai Forbath hit the 20 yard field goal to make it 10-0 Vikings. With one minute left in the opening quarter the Saints took over at their own 15. Brees went deep and a leaping interception by Sendejo had the Vikings at their own 42.

In the second quarter the Vikings faced 3rd and 8 at the Saints 28. Keenum hit Adam Thielen for an 11 yard gain. On 3rd and 8 from the 15, Keenum hit Diggs for 11 yards. Form the one, Murray got the call and stretched the ball over the plane of the goal for the touchdown to make it 17-0 Vikings. After a touchback the Saints moved to a 1st and 10 at the Minnesota 30. From the 29, Brees went deep to Ted Ginn Jr. for the touchdown. Yet an illegal shift nullified the score. From the 15, Brees then had his pass deflected at the line of scrimmage and intercepted by Anthony Barr. Barr returned it 18 yards with 15 more tacked on for a horse collar tackle as the Vikings took over at their own 43.

The Saints got it back at their own 9 with 3 minutes left in the half and moved to a 1st and 10 at the Minnesota 30 with 43 seconds left in the half. On 3rd and 10 Brees was sacked. A 58 yard field goal try was hooked wide no good. The Viking took over at their own 48 with 21 seconds left and 0 timeouts. Keenum threw incomplete but roughing the passer gave the Vikings 15 yards. Forbath tried a 49 yard field goal to end the half also hooked wide no good. After a touchback to start the third quarter, the Vikings moved to a 2nd and 3 at the Saints 29. A run lost a yard. On 3rd and 4, Keenum was sacked for a 10 yard loss to take the Vikings out of field goal range. Despite 7 minutes with the ball, Minnesota came up empty.

The Saints from their 20 finally put a drive together. On 3rd and 1 from their own 43, Brees snuck for 2 yards. A short pass to Thomas went for 28 yards. On 3rd and 1 from the Minnesota 19, a low throw to Willie Snead was somehow caught for a 5 yard gain. Brees went to the end zone to Thomas for a 14 yard touchdown. The 12 play, 80 yard, 6 1/2 minute drive finally got the Saints on the board down 17-7 with one minute left in the third quarter. After a touchback, Keenum erred terribly. Trying to avoid a sack, he threw a wounded duck that was intercepted by Williams. The Saints took over at the Minnesota 30. Brees threw a 3 yard touchdown pass to Thomas as the Saints were only down 17-14 with 13 minutes left in regulation.

After a touchback, Murray ran for 14 yards and Keenum went deep to Collins for a 27 yard gain. On 3rd and 7 from the Saints 31 Keenum almost made the same mistake again. On the verge of being sacked out off field goal range, as he was going to the ground he threw an incomplete pass. He was not called for intentional grounding. Sean Payton challenged that Keenum’s knees were down before he threw it. Payton lost the challenge. He had lost an earlier challenge as well, leaving the Saints without challenges and only one timeout with 10 minutes left to play. Forbath drilled the 49 yard field goal dead center to make it 20-14 Vikings.

The Saints soon faced 3rd and 1 at their own 36 and Sean Payton went into his bag of tricks. Brees threw a backward slant to Snead, who then threw to a wide open Alvin Kamara. The option pass was overthrown and incomplete. The Saints punted and Minnesota had to punt it back from their own 40 with 5 1/2 minutes left. The punt was blocked and the Saints took over at the same spot. Brees scrambled all over the place and threaded the needle for a 15 yard completion to Ginn. Brees went to Kamara for a 14 yard touchdown. With 3 minutes left, the Saints had come all the way back for a 21-20 lead as Minnesota fans wondered if this was 1998 all over again.

The Vikings faced a critical 3rd and 1 from their own 34. McKinnon got the carry up the gut and got 2 yards as the clock hit the 2 minute warning. Keenum then threw another pass under pressure that should not have been thrown. Despite defensive pass interference, Thielen came down with it for a 24 yard gain to the Saints 40. On 3rd and 5 from the Saints 35, another dangerous pass fell incomplete. Forbath came in with just over 90 seconds to play for a 53 yard field goal try. From Gary Anderson to Blair Walsh, Minnesota fans now had to await Forbath. He drilled it and the Vikings led 23-21. Now it was up to the NFL’s high octane offense against the league’s best defense as the Saints took over after a touchback with one timeout left.

Brees went to Hill for 18 yards and Ginn for 11 more to the Minnesota 46 with one minute left. 3 straight incompletions left 4th and 10 with 45 seconds left. A 64 yard field goal try was not an option, even indoors. Minnesota needed one more stop, and they did not get it. Brees went to Snead for a 13 yard gain. A couple of short passes left 3rd and 1 at the Minnesota 24 as the Vikings took their first timeout on defense to stop the clock with 33 seconds left. Kamara got the carry and lost a yard as the Vikings took their second timeout with 29 seconds left. Now it was up to Will Lutz from 43 yards out. He was also good as the Saints were back on top 24-23 with 25 seconds remaining.

After a touchback, the Vikings had one timeout and needed 40 yards for a 53 yard field goal try. The Vikings started with a false start. Keenum went to Diggs for 19 yards as the Vikings took their last timeout with 18 seconds left. A pair of incompletions left 10 seconds. The Vikings needed a miracle. Keenum threw a deep ball near the sideline that was caught by Stephan Diggs at the Saints 35 yard line. The defender took a bad angle and completely missed the tackle. Rather than run out of bounds to set up the field goal, Diggs saw that there was nothing in front of him but green. Diggs raced to the end zone for the touchdown as the clock read double zeroes. Minnesota was on their way to Philadelphia for the NFC Title Game. Forget Gary Anderson. Forget Blair Walsh. Forget Roger Staubach to Drew Pearson. Forget Brett Favre’s interception. 8 years after these teams had a playoff classic for the ages, they did again. Somebody buy that 100 year old Vikings fan at the game her beverage of choice. Pacemakers for the rest of us. Finally, miracles exist in Minnesota. 29-24 Vikings

The Conference Title Games are set. Both games are played on Sunday, January 21, 2018. All times Eastern.

AFC Title Game: (3) Jacksonville Jaguars (10-6) at (1) New England Patriots (13-3)(-9) at 3pm on CBS.

NFC Title Game: (2) Minnesota Vikings (13-3) at (1) Philadelphia Eagles (13-3) at 6:30pm on FOX.

NFL 2017-2018 Divisionals Prequel

Saturday, January 13th, 2018

NFL 2017-2018 Divisionals Prequel

13-3 teams are rested and ready: NFL 2017-2018 Divisionals Preview and Bettor’s Guide

NFL 2017-2018 Wildcard Recap

Sunday, January 7th, 2018

NFL 2017-2018 Wildcard recap

5) Tennessee Titans at 4) Kansas City Chiefs was the AFC Saturday afternoon game. The Titans started 8-4, lost three straight, and eked into the playoffs. The Chiefs started 5-0, collapsed to 6-6, and won 4 straight. after an exchange of punts the Chiefs took over and faced 3rd and 3 at their own 26. Alex Smith went to Tyreeq Hill for a 45 yard gain and then to Travis Kecle for 27 yards down to the 2 yard line. Kareem Hunt got the last yard for a 7-0 Chiefs lead. The Chiefs got it back at their own 24. Smith went to Hill for 26 yards. From the Tennessee 29, Hunt ran for 16 and Smith hit Kelce for a 13 yard touchdown to make it 14-0 Chiefs atfter the first quarter. With 6 minutes left in the half the Titans took over at their own 21. Mariota hit Delanie Walker for a 22 yard gain. On 3rd and 4 from the Chiefs 22, Mariota was sacked. Ryan Succop hit a 49 yard field goal to get the Titans on the board with 2 1/2 minutes left in the half. With 1:25 left in the half the Chiefs faced 3rd and 6 at their own 25. Smith hit Robinson for 13 yards and again for 15 more. With 30 seconds left in the half from the Titans 29, Smith went to Robinson for 15 and then for the 14 yard touchdown as the Chiefs led 21-3 at halftime. The second half was a completely different story.

The Titans began the third quarter at their own 9 yard line. Derrick Henry ran for 6 and 4 yards. On 3rd and 9 from their own 20, Mariota scrambled for 11 yards. From their own 45, Mariota hit Henry for 29 yards. On 3rd and goal at the 6, Mariota tried to pass but had the ball batted down. Yet it was deflected back to Mariota, who caught his own pass and ran to the corner pylon for the throw, the reception and the touchdown to get the Titans within 21-10. The Chiefs got a break when the Titans fumbled a punt and the Chiefs recovered at the Tennessee 28. Yet the Chiefs lost 2 yards and Harrison Butker missed a 48 yard field goal try. Tennessee took over at their own 38. On 3rd and 10 just past midfield, Mariota hit walker for 14 yards as the third quarter ended. The fourth quarter began with Henry running for a 35 yard touchdown. The 2 point try failed but the Titans were right back in it down 21-16. Tennessee got it back and soon faced 3rd and 3 at their own 27. Mariota hit Walker for 9 yards. On 3rd and 8 at the Tennessee 38, Mariota scrambled for 17 with 5 more tacked on for defensive holding. On 3rd and 2 from the Chiefs 32, Mariota hit Smith for 10 and then fired over the middle to Eric Decker for a 22 yard touchdown. The 2 point try again failed but 19 unanswered points had the Titans up 22-21 with 6 minutes to play.

Kansas City took over at their ow 27. Smith hit Harris for 13. On 3rd and 9 from their own 41, the Titans jumped offside. On 3rd and 4, Smith hit Harris for 9 yards. with 2:15 to play the Titans took a timeout on defense as the Chiefs faced 4th and 9 at the Tennessee 44. Smith went deep for a ball that was catchable but incomplete. The Chiefs still had all 3 timeouts. Henry got the carry and poor tackling let him bounce to the outside for a 13 yard gain at the 2 minute warning. Craziness ensued on the next play. Henry got the carry, got belted, fumbled, and the Chiefs returned it for a touchdown. The home crowd erupted. It was a miracle. Except it was not. Henry was clearly down before the ball was ripped out. With 1:57 left, officials properly reversed the call to down by contact as the Chiefs took their first timeout. With 1:53 left the Chiefs took their second timeout as everything came down to 3rd and 10 from the Chiefs 44. Mike Mularkey played it smart by not risking an incomplete pass. Henry got the carry, bounced to the outside, and gained 22 yards. One week after almost getting fired, Mularkey led his team to a stunning road playoff win. It was another bitter home loss for the Chiefs under Andy Reid and Alex Smith and their dink and dunk West Coast Offense. The Titans played smash mouth, and Henry ran for 156 yards on 23 carries. 22-21 Titans

6) Atlanta Falcons at 3) Los Angeles Rams was the NFC Saturday night game. Neither team could move the ball early on, but the Rams fumbled a punt and the Falcons recovered at the Rams 17 yard line. Yet the rams held on defense and Atlanta settled for a 29 yard Matt Bryant field goal to make it 3-0 Falcons. Atlanta got it back and soon faced 3rd and 3 at their own 17. Matt Ryan hit Mohammed Sanu for 6 yards. Ryan then went Julio jones for 27 yards to midfield. Jones then took an end around 13 yards. Despite 2nd and 6 from the Rams 33, Ryan threw incomplete twice. Bryant nailed the 51 yard field goal to make it 6-0 Falcons. The Rams fumbled away the ensuing kickoff and the Falcons took over with another short field at the Rams 32. Th second quarter began with atlanta facing 3rd and 2 at the Rams 24. Ryan hit Sanu for 6 yards. On 3rd and 4 from the 12, Ryan hit Hooper for 5 yards. From the 3, Devontae Freeman got the carry up the middle and appeared stopped. Yet a big assist from the offensive line practically carried him into the end zone for a 13-0 Falcons lead.

With 5 minutes left in the half the rams faced 2nd and 6 at their own 25. Todd Gurley broke free for a 26 yard gain with 15 more tacked on for unnecessary roughness. Goff then hit Cooper Kupp for 15 yards. On 3rd and 5 from the Atlanta 14, Goff went to Kupp for the touchdown. With 2 1/2 minutes left, the Rams were right back in it down 13-7. The Rams got it back at their own 16 with 1:15 left in the half. Rather than run the clock down, Sean McVay got very aggressive. Goff hit Kupp for gains of 5 and 10 and Woods for 8. Defensive pass interference on an incompletion added 16 more yards to the Atlanta 45 with 43 seconds left in the half. Goff then went deep to Woods for a 38 yard gain. After a ton of confusion, 14 seconds remained. After an incompletion left 8 seconds, Sam Fickens came in for a 35 yard field goal try. The kick was good and the Rams only trailed 13-10 at the break.

The Rams had the momentum but the Falcons began the third quarter at their own 17 playing out of the hurry up offense. Terrible tackling by the rams kept the Atlanta drive going. Freeman ran for a 22 yard gain. On 3rd and 9 from their own 41, Ryan hit Coleman for 14 yards. On 3rd and 1 from the Rams 21, Coleman got stopped. Yet Dan Quinn decided to go for it as the Falcons hurried up to the line. The Rams did not call a timeout on defense, and Ryan snuck across for the first down. On 3rd and goal from the 7, Ryan went to the end zone incomplete. The staggering 16 play, 76 yard drive took 8:15 off the clock, but the Falcons settled for a 25 yard Bryant field goal and a 16-10 lead. Atlanta got it back at their own 19. Ryan hit Jones for 12 and again for 16 to midfield. On 3rd and 6 from the Rams 36, Ryan threw incomplete. Bryant drilled a 54 yard field goal as the Falcons led 19-10 after three quarters.

The Rams took over at their own 20 and Gurley lost 5 yards. The fourth quarter began with the Rams facing 3rd and 15 at their own 15. Goff went deep to Woods for 18 yards. Gurley ran for 14 yards and then ripped off a 33 yard gain. The drive died in the red zone with a sack of Goff, but Ficken hit a 32 yard field goal to get the Rams within 19-13 with 11 minutes left in regulation. Atlanta took over at their own 17 and they got aggressive as well rather than just run down clock. Ryan hit Jones for 12 and Coleman for 8. On 3rd and 3 from the Atlanta 36, Ryan hit Hooper for 5 yards. On 2nd and 13 from the Atlanta 38, A swing pass to Sanu saw him split the seams for a 52 yard gain. On 2nd and goal at the 8, Ryan threw a fade to the end zone that was caught by Jones for the touchdown. For some reason Dan Quinn decided not to try a 2 point conversion as the Falcons led by 13 points rather than 14 with 5 1/2 minutes remaining.

The Rams took over at their own 22 and Goff led a furious rally. Goff hit Kupp for 14 yards. On 2nd and 19 from their own 27, Goff hit Sammy Watkins for 23 yards to midfield. Goff hit Woods for 13. On 3rd and 1 from the Atlanta 20, Goff hit Gurley for 3 yards. On 4th and 3 from the Atlanta 13, Goff hit Woods for 8 yards. On 3rd and goal from the 5, Goff fired to the end zone for the touchdown with 2:11 left. Yet on further review, officials ruled the ball hit the ground. On 4th and goal at the 5, Goff with all kinds of time avoided the pressure and fired to the end zone to Watkins. Watkins had it in his body but didn’t secure it and it was knocked away incomplete. Two dropped passes were the difference between hope and death. The Rams took two timeouts on defense and got the ball back just past midfield. They took their final timeout while facing 4th and 4 at the Atlanta 43. One more dropped pass later and the rams were officially done. The Rams have talent and are built for the future, but Atlanta won this game because of their experience. 26-13 Falcons

6) Buffalo Bills at 3) Jacksonville Jaguars was the AFC Sunday morning game. Buffalo at 9-7 made the playoffs for the first time in 18 years. Jacksonville in only their second year of existence in 1996 shocked the Bills 30-27 in the playoffs in Buffalo and ended Jim Kelly’s career. The 2017 version of these teams played a hideously unwatchable first half. Neither team could move the ball, and even when an interception set up Jacksonville at the Buffalo 35, no points came out of it. Jacksonville had only 2 first downs in the first 28 minutes. Buffalo had a mind-numbing 18 play, 71 yard drive that took 8 minutes. Yet despite 1st and goal at the one, the Bills moved backwards to the 15. With 1:53 left in the half, Steve Hauschka hit a 31 yard field goal to finally break the scoreless tie. With wind a factor, Blake Bortles kept missing open receivers. However, with less than one minute left in the half and Jacksonville starting at their own 47, Bortles finally got it done with his legs. Bortles ran for 20 and then again for 12 to the Buffalo 21 with 19 seconds left in the half as the Jaguars took their last timeout. Bortles was then sacked, and without a timeout the Jaguars hurried back to the line of scrimmage so Bortles could spike the ball to stop the clock with 7 seconds left. Josh Lambo hit the 44 yard field goal as the teams went to the locker rooms tied 3-3 in a half that should never be replayed again.

In the third quarter the Jaguars mounted a 15 play, 86 yard drive that took 9 minutes off the clock. On 3rd and goal at the one, Fournette tried to go over the top and got rocked back by an inspired Buffalo defense. On 4th and goal at the one in a game where nobody could score, Doug Marrone made the surprising decision to go for it rather than kick the field goal. On 4th and goal at the one, a play action pass saw Bortles fire over the middle to Koyack, who caught it for the touchdown and the 10-3 Jaguars lead as the third quarter was ending. With 6 1/2 minutes left in regulation the Bills faced 2nd and 10 at the Jacksonville 48. Taylor found Clay for 11 yards, but Doug Marrone challenged the catch. Replay showed the receiver stepped out of bounds, and the call was overturned. On 3rd and 10 Tyrod Taylor was sacked. Buffalo got it back, went 3 and out, and with 3 minutes left and all one timeout, Sean McDermott again decided to punt and trust his defense. The Bills got it back with 1:50 left at their own 37. On 3rd and 5, Taylor scrambled for 2 yards but got taken down hard by Dante Fowler. Taylor stayed down. Nathan Peterman played one half of football in the regular season and threw 5 interceptions. Now he had to come in on 4th and 3 with the season on the line. Peterman somehow avoided a sack and scrambled for 4 yards. However, on 2nd and 20, Peterman had a pass deflected and intercepted. Buffalo is done and Jacksonville heads to Pittsburgh, who they throttled earlier this season. Captain Grumpy Tom Coughlin was so pleased with the hideously ugly playoff win that he almost smiled. 10-3 Jaguars

 

5) Carolina Panthers at 4) New Orleans Saints was the NFC Sunday afternoon game. These teams both went 11-5 during the regular season but the saints won the division due to having swept Carolina. Greg Olsen was injured for both games, and he returned for Carolina in this game. Sean Payton has given pinball wizard Drew Brees a strong running game while Ron Rivera as usual has a tough Carolina defense. In the first quarter the Panthers moved 63 yards in 14 plays and took 7 1 /2 minutes off the clock. Yet on 3rd and 2 from the Saints 7, an easy touchdown pass from Cam Newton was dropped by Clay. It was right in his hands. Graham gang had missed only one field goal all year, but he missed a 25 yarder as a stunned Panthers team saw the game stay scoreless. Brees quickly went for the kill shot. A bomb to former Carolina receiver Ted Ginn Jr. went for an 80 yard touchdown. The 14 point swing had the Saints leading 7-0 rather than trailing.

After a touchback, Newton went to Olsen for 22 yards and then threw a bomb that ended up in a 39 yard defensive pass interference penalty as the first quarter ended. Yet on 3rd and 6 from the 9 to start the second quarter, Newton threw incomplete. This tie Gano hit from 27 as the Panthers trailed 7-3. After a touchback, Brees hit Ginn for 5 and Alvin Kamara for 19 more. He hit Ingram for 8. On 1st and 20 from the Carolina 32, Brees hit Kamara for 10 and Thomas for 13 more. Brees hit Hill for the 9 yard touchdown to make it 14-3 Saints. After a touchback the Panthers got stopped on 3rd and 1 just past midfield. Riverboat Ron Rivera decided to go for it, and on 4th and inches Newton snuck for enough. On 3rd and 7 from the Saints 24, a short pass left 4th and 4. Gano hit the 39 yard field goal as the Panthers were within 14-6 with 2:45 left in the half. That was more than enough time for Brees. He hit Thomas for 10, Coleman for 18 and Hill for 25. Zine got in from the one as the Saints led 21-6 with 43 seconds left in the half. After a touchback that was just enough time for Newton to hit Funchess for 24 yards. Gano drilled a 58 yarder to end the half. The Panthers were within 21-9, but they were kicking field goals while the Saints were scoring touchdowns.

The game slowed considerably in the third quarter. The Panthers moved from their own 25 to a 3rd and goal at the 4. Yet Newton was then sacked to kill another drive. Gano hit his 4th field goal in 5 tries from 29 yards out to get the Panthers within 21-12. After a touchback, the Saints moved to a 3rd and 5 at the Carolina 22. Brees threw incomplete, but was called for intentional grounding. The penalty made it 4th and 22 from the Carolina 39. Sean Payton gambled on a 57 yard field goal try, and Will Lutz delivered to make it 24-12 Saints. Carolina took over at their own 32 late in the third quarter. The fourth quarter began with the Panthers facing 3rd and 1 at the Saints 42. Newton hit Olsen for a 24 yard gain. On 3rd and 6 from the 14, Newton went to Olsen in the end zone, and the Panthers finally had a touchdown to get within 24-19 with 13 minutes left in regulation.

With 9 minutes left, Newton tried to avoid a sack and got belted. Derek Anderson came in with the Panthers facing 3rd and 17 at their own 10. Anderson tried to throw a pass but it was batted down incomplete. The Saints took over at their own 38 with 8 minutes left and a chance to put the game away. From just shy of midfield, Brees went deep to Thomas for a 46 yard gain down to the Carolina 5. Kamara got in from 2 yards out as the Saints led 31-19 with 5 minutes left. Newton came back in and the Panthers struck quickly. After a touchback, Newton hit Funchess for 19 yards and then fired a laser to Christian McCaffrey. McCaffrey split the seams and raced for a 56 yard touchdown. 4 minutes still remained and the Panthers were right back in it down by 5 points With 3:22 left the Panthers took their first timeout on defense with the Saints facing 3rd and 6 at their own 39. With everything on the line, Brees fired to Thomas for an 18 yard gain. With 2 1/2 minutes left, the Panthers took their final timeout. The Saints faced 3rd and 2 at the Carolina 47. A first down would end things. Kamara got the carry and ran into a Carolina brick wall as the clock hit the 2 minute warning. After failing to get the Panthers to jump offsides, the Saints had to punt and the Panthers would have a chance.

Instead, Sean Payton decided to really go for it. Under heavy pressure, Brees was intercepted at the Carolina 31. Had the defender dropped the ball, the Panthers would have taken over at their own 47. Nevertheless, Sean Payton and his cojones of steel would soon find out if his major gamble would blow up in his face with 1:51 left. Newton hit Funchess for 19 to midfield. Newton then went to Clay for 21 yards to the Saints 26. Defensive holding moved the ball to the 21. A pass to the goal line should have been intercepted but was dropped. On 2nd and 10, Newton threw the ball away under heavy pressure and was called for intentional grounding. The 10 second runoff left 24 seconds as the Panthers faced 3rd and 23 from the Saints 34. A pass to the end zone was very catchable but fell incomplete with 11 seconds left. Now it was time for the Hail Mary. Newton never had a chance. A pair of defenders bull-rushed Newton and belted him to the ground. The ball never left his hand as the Saints defense saved Coach Payton from a lifetime of criticism. Newton finished 24 of 40 for 349 yards without being intercepted. Brees was 23 of 33 for 376 yards with the one late interception. Each quarterback threw 2 touchdowns as the Saints survived a thriller. They travel to Minnesota for the Divisional round. 31-26 Saints

Bye weeks:

AFC: 1) New England Patriots and 2) Pittsburgh Steelers

NFC: 1) Philadelphia Eagles and 2) Minnesota Vikings

 

The Divisional Playoffs are now set (all times Eastern):

Saturday, Jan. 13, 2018:

4:30pm: NFC: (6) Atlanta Falcons (10-6) at (1) Philadelphia Eagles (13-3) on NBC

8:00pm: AFC: (5) Tennessee Titans (9-7) at (1) New England Patriots (13-3) on CBS

Sunday, Jan. 14

1:00pm: AFC: (3) Jacksonville Jaguars (10-6) at (2) Pittsburgh Steelers (13-3) on CBS

4:30pm: NFC: (4) New Orleans Saints (11-5) at (2) Minnesota Vikings (13-3) on Fox

NFL 2017-2018 Wildcard Prequel

Saturday, January 6th, 2018

NFL 2017-2018 Wildcard Prequel

Bomb Cyclone Bowl: NFL 2017-2018 Wildcard Preview and Bettor’s Guide

NFL 2017 Week 17 Recap

Sunday, December 31st, 2017

NFL 2017 Week 17 Recap

Green Bay Packers at Detroit Lions — Both the 7-8 Packers and 8-7 Lions are out of the playoffs. The Lions have not swept the Packers since 1991. Mike McCarthy started the game with a successful surprise onside kick. However,a  quick throw by Brett Hundley bounced right off the receiver’s hands and was intercepted by Jamal Williams. Green Bay got it back and Mason Crosby hit a 41 yard field goal to make it 3-0 Packers. A perfectly executed play action pass had Matthew Stafford go deep to Marlin Mack for a 56 yard gain. Matt Prater hit a 28 yard field goal for a 3-3 game. The Packers moved to the red zone but fumbled the ball away at the Detroit 15. In the second quarter the Lions moved 88 yards. Stafford went to Kenny Golladay for a 54 yard touchdown to make it 10-3 Lions. With 3 minutes left in the half the Packers fumbled a punt and the Lions took over at the Green Bay 14. Stafford threw a perfect 3 yard fade to the corner for Marvin Jones, who out jumped the defender for the touchdown and the 17-3 Lions lead. Earlier the Packers punted on 4th and 18 from their own 2. Now they were punting on 4th and 23 from their own one. The Lions took over at the Green Bay 35 with 1:41 left in the half. Prater hit from 30 as a close game was now a 20-3 Lions romp at the half.

One play in the third quarter was enough for Stafford to throw a 71 yard touchdown pass to Golden Tate to make it 27-3 Lions. Green Bay did get a garbage touchdown, but Amir Abdullah responded with a 7 yard touchdown for the Lions to extend the blowout. On the 2 point try, Stafford handed to Tate, who threw it back to Stafford in the end zone to complete the blowout win. The loss dropped the Packers to 7-9 while the Lions finished 9-7. Despite 3 winning seasons in 4 years, the Lions are actually thinking of firing Jim Caldwell. New England defensive coordinator Matt Patricia is the leading candidate. Mike McCarthy is safe, but Green Bay may fire longtime defensive coordinator Dom Capers despite his having to deal with an injury-riddled defense. 35-11 Lions

Houston Texans at Indianapolis Colts — The least important game of the day saw Fairbairn hit a 52 yard field goal to make it 3-0 Texans. The Colts came back 75 yards in 15 plays and 8 1/2 minutes. Jacoby Brissett hit Doyle for a 6 yard touchdown to make it 7-3 Colts. The Texans moved 75 yards in 13 plays and 8 minutes. Alfred Blue ran for a 2 yard touchdown to make it 10-7 Texans. Fairbairn tacked on a 46 yard field goal in the second quarter to make it 13-7 Texans. In a game where both coaches were at risk of being fired after the game, Chuck Pagano literally had nothing to lose. He tried a surprise onside kick to start the second half. It was a good kick, but the Texans recovered it. The Colts got it back at their own 17. On 3rd and 6 from the Houston 29, Brissett threw incomplete but defensive holding kept the drive going. Marlin Mack bulled in from the one to complete the 13 play, 83 yard, 6 1/2 minute drive and make it 14-13 Colts. The Texans got it back at their own 8 yard line with 12 minutes left in regulation. TJ Yates was sacked in the end zone for a safety to make it 16-13 Colts. After the free kick Adam Vinatieri drilled a 54 yard field goal to make it 19-13 Colts with 9 minutes left. The Colts got it back with 6 1/2 minutes left, took almost all the time off the clock, and wrapped it up when Vinatieri hit from 22 with 30 seconds left. Both teams ended 4-12 as Bill O’Brien and Chuck Pagano awaited Black Monday. Pagano didn’t have to wait. Right after the game on Sunday he was Chuck Be-Gone-O. 22-13 Colts

Chicago Bears at Minnesota Vikings — The 12-3 Vikings with a win would secure a first round bye although home field throughout the playoffs was out of reach. On the second play of the game a roughing the passer penalty on Chicago had the Vikings on the move. Case Keenum hit Sean Diggs for a 26 yard gain. Latavius Murray ran up the gut for a one yard touchdown to cap the 70 yard drive and make it 7-0 Vikings. In the second quarter the Vikings moved 71 yards in 11 plays and 6 minutes. Murray again got in from the one to make it 14-0 Vikings. The Bears had no offense and little defense, but special teams got them back in it. Brice Callahan returned a punt 59 yards for a touchdown to get the Bears within 14-7. The Bears actually faked who had the ball on the return. Chicago got it back and faced 2nd and 13 at their own 9. Mitchell Trubisky was called for intentional grounding in the end zone and the safety with 2 1/2 minutes left in the half made it 16-7 Vikings. In the third quarter the Vikings moved 63 yards and Keenum hit Diggs for a 15 yard touchdown to complete the scoring. Mike Zimmer’s defense did the rest as the 13-3 Vikings secured their first round bye and John Fox awaited his Black Monday fate. 23-7 Vikings

New York Jets at New England Patriots — With a win the Patriots would lock up home field throughout the playoffs. New England went right to work, moving 75 yards in 13 plays and 5 1/2 minutes. Dion Lewis from the 3 yard line got the carry and got the ball just over the plane of the goal to make it 7-0 Patriots. Early on the expected blowout did not materialize. Chandler Catanzaro hit a 48 yard field goal to get the Jets within 7-3. In the second quarter, Catanzaro missed from 40 yards out. The Patriots soon faced 3rd and 10 at their own 27. Tom Brady threw his 3rd straight incompletion but defensive holding kept the drive going. On 3rd and 1 from the New England 41, Lewis got the yard. A defensive pass interference penalty on a deep ball tacked on 42 yards to the 14 yard line. Brady threw a 5 yard touchdown to Brandon cooks to cap the 10 play, 73 yard drive and make it 14-3 Patriots with 4 minutes left in the half. New England got it back with 2:01 left in the half at their own 42. On 3rd and 5 from the Jets 31, Brady threw incomplete but defensive holding kept the drive going. Earlier the Jets jumped offsides on this drive. Brady hit Lewis for a 5 yard touchdown as the Patriots got the kill shot to take a 21-3 halftime lead. The uneventful second half saw each team kick a field goal and the Patriots added a safety as they locked up home field with a 13-3 record. The Jets were 5-7 before ending with 4 straight losses but they overachieved all year for Todd Bowles. 26-6 Patriots

Washington Redskins at New York Giants — Neither team is going to the playoffs. 17 seconds into the game and the Giants were on the board as Orleans Darkwa took a handoff and raced 75 yards for a touchdown. The extra point was no good as the Giants led 6-0. Washington quickly faced 3rd and 7 at their own 28. Kirk Cousins was intercepted, and the Giants took over at the Washington 19. Eli Manning went to Sharp for a 16 yard touchdown. The 2 point try failed but the Giants led 12-0 barely more than 2 minutes into the game. Eli Manning was quickly intercepted when the Giants got it back, setting up the Redskins at the Giants 20. Cousins ran for a 12 yard touchdown to get the Redskins within 12-7. After a touchback the Giants moved to a 1st and goal at the 6. On 3rd and goal from the 5, Manning fired over the middle to a wide open Adams. Adams just dropped it. Aldrick Rosas hit a 23 yard field goal to make it 15-7 Giants, The final 3 quarters were a hideous slog. With 18 seconds left in the half the Giants punted from their own 21. Crowder returned the punt 29 yards to the Giants 31 with 4 seconds left in the half. Dustin Hopkins to hit a 49 yard field goal to get the Redskins within 15-10. Midway through the third quarter Hopkins missed from 47. Early in the fourth quarter Rosas hit from 29 to put the Giants back up by 8 points.With 3 minutes left Cousins was intercepted. Despite the win, the 3-13 Giants still have the number 2 pick in the Draft while the 7-9 Redskins will go into 2018 with everyone on the hot seat. 18-10 Giants.

Dallas Cowboys at Philadelphia Eagles — Despite clinching home field throughout the playoffs, Doug Pederson had his starters play in this game. The Eagles are 13-2 but looked shaky in their last 2 wins. They faced an 8-7 Cowboys team eliminated from playoff contention. After a scoreless first quarter in which Nick Foles did not look good, Pederson pulled the starters. The game remained scoreless after three quarters. The Cowboys were pinned at their own one yard line. but by the fourth quarter had moved to their own 37. Dan Prescott then hit Ezekiel Elliott for 22 yards. On 3rd and 9 from the Philly 28, Prescott threw incomplete but illegal contact kept the drive going. on 3rd and 7 from the Dallas 20, prescott went to Brice Butler for the touchdown with 12 1/2 minutes left. Dan bailey missed the extra point. A chip shot field goal try by Bailey to lock up the win was also no good. With one second left from the Philly 40, the Eagles actually took a delay of game penalty. The hook and laterals failed. The Cowboys finished 9-7 and Jerry Jones insisted Jason Garrett is coming back next year. The Eagles are 13-3 but the fans will complain until and unless they “bring it home for Jerome.” The offense is very shaky. 6-0 Cowboys

Cleveland Browns at Pittsburgh Steelers — The 12-3 Steelers played all their backups against the winless Browns. Mike Tomlin concluded that there was no way the Jets would go on the road and beat New England. Tomlin conceded home field advantage throughout the playoffs before the games even started. Landry Jones started in place of ben Roethlisberger. The Steelers moved 72 yards and Darrius Hayward-Bey took an end around 29 yards for a touchdown and a 7-0 Steelers lead. DeShone Kizer barely avoided a safety as he was sacked for losses of 8 and 12 and the Browns punted on 4th and 30 from their own 2 yard line. Yet Landry Jones was intercepted by Jabril Peppers to set up the Browns at their own 37 in a game that was expected to be this ugly. Pittsburgh got it back and made it look easy. A short pass from Jones to Juju Smith-Schuster followed by terrible tackling turned a gain of nothing into a 34 yard gain. Stephen Ridley then ran for 21 more yards. On 4th and 3 from the Cleveland 9, a 27 yard field goal was good. Yet Cleveland lined up in the neutral zone. Mike Tomlin took the points off the board. On 2nd and goal from the one, a pair of runs got stopped. Mike Tomlin decided to go for it. On 4th and goal at the one, Nix got the carry and got stopped cold. The winless Browns run defense celebrated the goal line stand.

They would not be celebrating for long. Punting out of their own end zone again, the punt was partially blocked to set the Steelers up at the Cleveland 28. Jones found a wide open Smith-Schuster for a 20 yard touchdown to make it 14-0 Steelers.The Browns got a ray of hope when Kizer threw a 56 yard touchdown bomb to Josh Gordon to get the Browns on the board. Replay showed Brown was out of bounds at the 2 yard line, and Tomlin successfully challenged the call. On 1st and goal at the 2 a low but catchable ball to a wide open receiver was dropped. Duke Johnson ran it in and the call stood and the Browns were finally within 14-7. Yet after a touchback, defensive penalties killed the Brown. From the Cleveland 38, a defensive facemask had Pittsburgh at the Cleveland 16. On 3rd and 3 form the 9 Landry threw incomplete but roughing the passer on Myles Garrett kept the drive going. Ridley ran for a 4 yard touchdown to make it 21-7 Steelers. Cleveland did not give up. Kizer zipped a pass over the middle to Rashard Higgins, who split the seams and raced for a 56 yard touchdown to get the Browns within 21-14.

In the third quarter the Browns moved 68 yards. Kizer hit Njoku for a 34 yard gain. on 3rd and goal at the 5, Kizer hit Higgins for the touchdown. The winless Browns had tied the game 21-21. 12 seconds later the winless Browns were losing again. Juju Smith-Schuster, who is still not Jewish, returned the kickoff 96 yards for a touchdown to make it 28-21 Steelers. The Browns soon face 3rd and 15 at their own 7. Kizer scrambled for 16 and Browns were alive. On 3rd and 17 from the Pittsburgh 41, Kizer hit Coleman for 18 yards. On 3rd and 10 from the Pittsburgh 23, Kizer ran for 7 but offensive holding killed the drive. Gonzalez hit a 51 yard field goal as the Browns only trailed by 4 points after 3 quarters. The fourth quarter summed up the entire Browns season.

With 13 minutes left in regulation the Browns faced 3rd and 15 at their own 31. Kizer found Johnson for a 39 yard gain, but Johnson fumbled the ball away. With 7 minutes left in regulation from the Cleveland 31, Kizer was intercepted. With 4 1/2 minutes left the Browns took over at their own 15. They moved to a 4th and 2 at the Pittsburgh 27 with 1:54 left. Kizer miraculously avoided a sack and fired a pass to Coleman inside the Pittsburgh 10 yard line. Coleman dropped it. It was right in his hands and he just dropped it. The 13-3 Steelers survived to spare Mike Tomlin answering ridiculous questions about playing his backups. Browns owner Jimmy Haslam said a couple weeks ago he was not firing Hue Jackson. An 0-16 season is forever, and that could change the calculation. The Browns are 1-31 the last 2 years, the worst stretch in NFL history. The 1976-1977 Buccaneers started 0-26 but won 2 straight. 28-24 Steelers

Carolina Panthers at Atlanta Falcons — The 11-4 Panthers had locked up a wildcard but could win the division with a win and a New Orleans loss. Atlanta at 9-6 would make the playoffs with a win but would miss the playoffs with a loss if Seattle also won. Early on the Falcons moved 75 yards in 10 plays. Matt Ryan hit Devonta Freeman for a 19 yard touchdown to make it 7-0 Falcons. In the second quarter the Panthers had a staggering 16 play, 78 yard drive that took 8 1/2 minutes off the clock. Cam Newton hit Devon Funchess for a 7-7 ballgame. In the third quarter the Falcons moved 68 yards in 13 plays and 7 minutes. The drive died in the red zone as Matt Bryant hit a 30 yard field goal to make it 10-7 Falcons. An interception of Newton led to a 42 yard Bryant field goal to make it 13-7 Falcons. In the fourth quarter the Falcons moved 60 yards and Bryant hit from 30 to make it 16-7 Falcons. The Panthers came back 51 yards and Graham Gano hit from 42 to get the Panthers within 16-10. After a touchback Ryan went to Julio Jones for a 27 yard gain. With 6:43 to play Bryant came in for a 56 yard field goal knowing a miss would set up Carolina well. Dan Quinn’s trust paid off as Bryant drilled it to make it 19-10 Falcons.

Cincinnati Bengals at Baltimore Ravens — The 9-6 Ravens are in the playoffs with a win. They could still get in with a loss and a lot of help. Marvin Lewis is resigning after the game after 15 seasons with the Bengals. Early on the Bengals moved 78 yards and Red Rifle Andy Dalton hit Kroft for a one yard touchdown to make it 7-0 Bengals. In the second quarter the Bengals fumbled and the Ravens recovered at the Cincy 34. The defense held Baltimore to a 46 yard field goal as the Ravens trailed 7-3. Late in the second quarter the Bengals faced 3rd and 6 at their own 32. Dalton hit LaFell for 13 yards. From the Baltimore 30, Dalton hit Kroft for 20 yards. On 3rd and goal at the 5, Dalton hit Kroft for the touchdown to make it 14-3 Bengals with 4:15 left in the half. The Bengals for it back less than one minute later and moved from their 23 to a 1st and 10 at the Baltimore 14. After spiking the ball to stop the clock, Dalton threw incomplete twice. Bullock hit a 32 yard field goal as the Bengals led 17-3 with just 22 seconds left in the half.

That was enough time for Moore to return the kickoff 87 yards to the Cincinnati 6 yard line with 8 seconds left. Flacco fired over the middle to Moore for the touchdown as the Ravens were back in down 17-10. In the third quarter the Ravens moved from their 23 to a 2nd and 5 at the Cincy 22. Flacco threw a short pass to Moore. Yet Moore juggled the easy throw and it was intercepted by Dennard. Dennard had a convoy of blockers and he followed them perfectly for an 89 yard touchdown. Rather than a 17-17 game, the Bengals led 24-10 in front of a shellshocked home crowd that saw their team’s playoff chances evaporating.

The Ravens came back 61 yards. On 4th and 3 from the Cincy 17, Alex collins took a handoff to the left, reversed his field, and made it all the way to the right pylon for a touchdown to get the Ravens within 24-17. Baltimore got it back and moved 62 yards in 14 plays and 6 minutes. Despite 1st and 10 at the Cincy 15, the drive died there. With 13 minutes left in regulation Tucker hit from 34 as the Ravens trailed 24-20. An unnecessary roughness penalty on a punt gave the Ravens the ball back at the Cincinnati 45. Joe Flacco hit Mike Wallace for 10 and Campanaro for 11 more. On 3rd and 5 from the Cincy 6, Flacco went to Wallace for the touchdown. With nearly 9 minutes left in regulation, 17 unanswered points and the Ravens storm back for a 27-24 lead.

After an exchange of punts, the Bengals took over at their own 10 with 2:43 to play. At the 2 minute warning the Bengals faced 2nd and 10 at their own 33. Dalton threw incomplete, but defensive pass interference meant a 10 yard gain. With 1:23 left the Bengals faced 3rd and 5 at their own 48. Dalton threw deep and was intercepted as the Bengals celebrated a return to the playoffs. They celebrated too early as defensive holding negated the turnover. With 53 seconds left and the Bengals out of timeouts, they faced 4th and 12 at the Baltimore 49. One more stop and the Ravens were in the playoffs. Instead, in front of a shocked and disbelieving home crowd, Dalton went deep to Boyd for a 49 yard touchdown. Just like that, Baltimore dropped to 9-7 and their playoff hopes went down in flames. The 7-9 Bengals will most likely see Marvin Lewis walk away after 15 seasons, but he went out in style with consecutive road wins that knocked two good teams out of the playoffs. 31-27 Bengals

Buffalo Bills at Miami Dolphins — The 8-7 Bills needed a win and help to make the playoffs. Jay cutler played one series and then was benched for backup Fales, who played the rest of the game. Early on the Bills moved 72 yards. Tyrod Taylor hit Nick O’Leary for a 26 yard touchdown to make it 7-0 Bills. In the third quarter the Bills just missed out on another touchdown. The 11 play, 80 yard drive took 5 minutes but had them settle for a 23 yard Steve Hauschka to make it 10-0 Bills. Huaschka hit from 49 in the third quarter to make it 13-0 Bills. The Dolphins then went for it on 4th and 8 from the Buffalo 37. Fales was called for intentional grounding on a 13 yard loss. On 3rd and 6 from the Miami 32, Tyrod Taylor went deep incomplete but defensive pass interference meant 1st and goal at the one. Williams got in to make it 19-0 Bills. The Dolphins finally got on the board with a 36 yard Cody Parkey field goal. In the fourth quarter Buffalo answered with a 33 yard Hauschak field goal to make it 22-3 Bills.

Miami went 75 yards in 10 plays and 5 1/2 minutes and got a one yard touchdown run from Jarvis Landry. The 2 point try failed but the Dolphins were within 22-9. Miami got it back and moved 68 yards. Fales got the last yard and the Dolphins were within 6 points. Miami even recovered the onside kick and had a chance to win the game. With 90 seconds left from the Miami 46, Fales threw a pass over the middle and was intercepted. The Dolphins finished 6-10 while the 9-7 Bills won the tie-breakers with other teams. The longest NFL playoff drought of 17 seasons is now over. In Sean McDermott’s first season at the helm, the Bills are going to the playoffs. 22-16 Bills

New Orleans Saints at Tampa Bay Buccaneers — Despite being 4-11, the Buccaneers announced after failing to rehire Jon Gruden that Dirk Koetter will return in 2018. The 11-4 Saints with a win would lock up the NFC South but with a loss and a Carolina win would fall to the Wildcard. The Buccaneers moved 75 yards in 14 plays and 5 1/2 minutes. Patrick Barber ran for a one yard touchdown to make it 7-0 Buccaneers. 13 seconds later the game was tied as Alvin Kamara returned the ensuing kickoff 106 yards for a touchdown and a 7-7 game. The Saints got it back and moved 65 yards. Brees went deep to Thomas for a 43 yard gain. Kamara ran for a 7 yard touchdown to make it 14-7 Saints. In the second quarter the Buccaneers moved 75 yards in 12 plays and over 6 minutes. Jameis Winston got in from the one. The extra point was no good as the Buccaneers trailed 14-13.

In the third quarter the Buccaneers moved to the Saints 23. Winston went to the end zone and was intercepted for a touchback, From the Saints 35, Brees went deep to Kamara for a 40 yard gain. Will Lutz hit a 48 yard field goal to make it 17-13 Saints. The fourth quarter began with the Buccaneers punting. The Saints fumbled it and Johnson recovered it for the Buccaneers and rumbled 7 yards for the touchdown to make it 20-17 Buccaneers. The Saints came back 92 yards in 13 plays and 7 minutes. Brees hit Line for a 3 yard touchdown to put the Saints back in front 24-20 midway through the fourth quarter. After a touchback the Bucs moved to a 1st and 10 at the Saints 24. 3 straight incompletions were followed by Dirk Koetter opting for the field goal. With only 4 1/2 minutes left, Koetter had faith in his defense. Patrick Murray hit from 42 and the Buccaneers trailed 24-23.

After a touchback, a 23 yard completion from Brees to Ted Ginn Jr. had the Saints with 1st and 10 at the Tampa 40 with 3 minutes left. Another first down would all but ice things as the Buccaneers took their final timeout. On 3rd and 10 a sack of Brees would give the Bucs won more chance. With 1:58 to play the Bucs took over at their own 5 yard line. 95 yards and 0 timeouts is not an easy feat, but a field goal would win it. After 3 straight Winston incompletions, the Bucs were down to their last gasp. On 4th and 10 from their own 5, Winston found Brate for 12 yards. On 3rd and 1 from their own 26 with one minute left, Winston hit Evans for 9 and then again for another 16 more. A 10 yard completion was followed by a surprise timeout on defense by Sean Payton with 15 seconds left. With the game on the line, Winston went deep to Evans for a 39 yard touchdown with 9 seconds left. With 2 seconds left from the Saints 26, a short pass came up 67 yards of the end zone. The Buccaneers finished 5-11. The Saints ended up 11-5, but because Carolina also lost, the Saints still won the NFC South and will host a Wildcard game next week. 31-24 Buccaneers

Jacksonville Jaguars at Tennessee Titans — The 10-5 Jaguars are locked into their spot as AFC North champions and the three seed, but Doug Marrone is not resting his starters. The Jaguars lost earlier this year to the 8-7 Titans. The Titans with a win are in the playoffs and with a loss are most likely out. So The Jaguars would love to knock Tennessee out. Mike Mularkey once had an 8-4 squad, so a fourth straight loss could cost him his job. In the second quarter of a scoreless game the Titans took over at their 18. From their own 34, Marcus Mariota hit Derrick Henry, who split the seams and raced for a 66 yard touchdown. The extra point was blocked as the Titans led 6-0. Josh Lambo got the Jaguars on the board with a 41 yard field goal. At the 2 minute warning the Titans punted on 4th and 1 from their own 29. The Jaguars fumbled the punt and the Titans recovered at the Jacksonville 12. The Jaguars held on defense as Ryan Succop hit a 25 yard field goal to make it 9-3 Titans. On the ensuing play from scrimmage the Jaguars fumbled and the Titans recovered at the Jacksonville 29. Succop hit from 39 to make it 12-3 Titans at halftime. Succop hit again from 38 to make it 15-3 Titans.

With 11 minutes left in regulation, the Titans were in total control as they moved to the Jacksonville 26 after an interception of Blake Bortles. Mariota fumbled and Ngakoue returned it 67 yards for a defensive touchdown. Just like that, the Jaguars were right back in it down by 5 points. With 2:13 to play the Titans faced 3rd and 5 at their own 44. Mariota avoided pressure and scrambled for a 13 yard gain. By the time the Jaguars got the ball back, only 18 seconds remained with the Jaguars at their own 18. Bortles went deep and was intercepted. In a stunner, the Titans got to 9-7. Rather than get their coach fired, they are going to the playoffs. The Jaguars at 10-6 enter the playoffs with 2 straight losses. Jacksonville won the division, but Tennessee swept the season series. 15-10 Titans

Kansas City Chiefs at Denver Broncos — The 9-6 Chiefs wrapped up the AFC West and Walrus Lite Andy Reid rested his starters. Patrick Mahomes started his first NFL game as Alex Smith rested. Early on the Chiefs moved 86 yards. Kareem Hunt ran for a 35 yard touchdown to make it 7-0 Chiefs. Mahomes would later throw his first NFL interception. The Broncos had Paxton Lynch start this game. Denvermoved 72 yards in 12 plays and 6 1/2 minutes, settling for a 36 yard Brandon McManus field goal to trail 7-3. In the second quarter the Broncos moved 80 yards in 10 plays and over 5 1/2 minutes. Lynch went to Henderson for a 299 yard touchdown to make it 10-7 Broncos. The Chiefs came back 73 yards and Sherman ran for a one yard touchdown to make it 14-10 Chiefs.

In the third quarter the Chiefs had a mind-numbing 18 play drive that went 90 yards and took 9 minutes off the clock. Despite 2nd and goal at the one, a run lost a yard and Mahomes then threw incomplete. Andy Reid played it safe and Harrison Butker hit a 20 yard field goal to make it 17-10 Chiefs. Lynch was then sacked and fumbled. Wilson recovered it and ran 11 yards for a defensive touchdown to make it 24-10 Chiefs. Denver moved from their 20 to a 1st and 10 at the Chiefs 11. On 4th and 15 from the 16, Lynch was intercepted and the Chiefs took over at their own 42. The game appeared over. However, on the next play Bray fumbled and Anderson returned it 38 yards for a defense touchdown. The Broncos were right back in it down 24-17 midway through the fourth quarter. Denver got it back at their own 38 and Lynch went to Bennie Fowler for 22 yards. On 3rd and 7 from the Chiefs 37, Lynch found Booker for 12 yards. With 3 minutes left, on 4th and 4 from the 6, Lynch hit Denarius Thomas for the touchdown for a 24-24 tie.

The Chiefs took over at their own 21 and a sack of Mahomes meant 2nd and 17 at their own 14 at the 2 minute warning. On 3rd and 4 Mahomes threw incomplete but the Broncos jumped offsides. Mahomes then went to Robinson for 12, Wilson for 13, and Wilson again for 14. With 4 seconds left, Butker came in for a 30 yard field goal try to win it. Butker was good and the 5-11 Broncos will find out soon if rookie Vance Joseph returns in 2018. The Chiefs started 5-0, dropped to 6-6, and then went 4-0 down the stretch. They won the AFC West at 10-6 and will host a Wildcard matchup next week, making Andy Reid a Happy Walrus Lite. 27-24 Chiefs

Oakland Raiders at Los Angeles Chargers — The 8-7 Chargers need a win and help to get in. A loss and they are out. The 6-9 Raiders give games away, and one year after going 12-4, rumors are swirling that Jack Del Rio will be fired and Jon Gruden will return. Mark Davis is rumored to be offering Chucky coaching power and even minority ownership in the team. The Raiders moved from their own 11 to the Chargers 31. Offensive holding then killed the drive in a scoreless first quarter. Late in the first quarter the Chargers took over at their own one yard line. Early in the second quarter they faced 3rd and 16 at their own 30. Philip Rivers threw incomplete but defensive pass interference meant a 30 yard gain. On the next play from the Oakland 40, Melvin Gordon ran for 14 yards, fumbled the ball right into the arms of teammate Keenan Allen. Allen raced the remaining 26 yards for a 7-0 Chargers lead. The Raiders soon faced 3rd and 22 at their own 13. Carr went bombs away to Amari Cooper for an 87 yard touchdown and a 7-7 ballgame. Plays like that are how offensive coordinator Todd Downing can lobby to keep his job.

After a touchback, the Chargers moved to a 3rd and 2 at the Oakland 27. Rivers threw incomplete and then tried to go for it on 4th and 2. A false start instead meant a field goal try of 50 yards for Nick Rose. The kick was blocked, and the Raiders took over at the Chargers 30. On 4th and 2 from the 22, Georgio Tavecchio came in to try and give the Raiders the lead from 40 yards out. The kick was good and the Raiders led 10-7. Yet in a season gone wrong, the Raiders stopped playing and took the rest of the game off. The Chargers faced 1st and 20 at their own 28. A run gained only one yard. Yet a tricky tack unnecessary roughness penalty on khalil Mack gave the Chargers 1st and 10 at their own 44. On the next play Rivers went deep to Williams for a 56 yard touchdown and a 14-10 Chargers lead. The Raiders moved to a 1st and at the Chargers 43 at the 2 minute warning. Carr went to the end zone and was intercepted. With 1:48 left from their own 23, Rivers went to work. He hit Melvin Gordon for 12 and Keenan Allen for 17. With 38 seconds left from the Oakland 26, Rivers hit Gates for 20 yards and Allen for the 6 yard touchdown. The extra point was blocked bu the Chargers led 20-10 at halftime.

In the third quarter after a touchback, the Chargers moved to a 1st and goal at the 7. The defense held and Rose hit a 25 yard field goal. The Chargers led 23-10, but the Raiders were not out of it. After a touchback they moved to a 4th and 2 at the Chargers 18. With 6 minutes still left in the third quarter a field goal would have made it a 10 point game. Jack Del Rio decided to go for it which was fine. Yet Todd Downing dialed up a dreadful play call. Rather than pass it or have Marshawn Lynch bang up the gut, a pitchout to Lynch had him running laterally. The play failed and the Raiders came up empty. With one minute left in the third quarter the Chargers faced 3rd and 13 at their own 38. Rivers went deep to Travis Benjamin for a 62 yard touchdown bomb. Although the entire fourth quarter remained, the game was now essentially over.

Late in the fourth quarter the Raiders moved from their own 8 to 2nd and goal at the Chargers 5 with 4 minutes left. Forgetting they ere down by 20 rather than winning, the Raiders ran down the clock and on 4th and goal at the 5, Carr threw incomplete. The 1992 Chargers are the only team to start 0-4 and make the playoffs, winning their division a 11-5. The 25th anniversary team of 2017 started 0-4 and fought back to 9-7, but they were one game back in the division. Due to a stunning result in another playoff game, the Chargers lost the tie-breaker to other teams and were out of the playoffs. The Raiders immediately fired Jack Del Rio after the game. Last year the Raiders were 12-4. This year they were 6-6 and tied atop the AFC West. 4 straight losses and a 6-10 team still would not have been enough to sack Del Rio. If the Raiders do indeed have Jon Gruden coming back, Mark Davis is a hero. If the Raiders do not land Gruden, Mark Davis will be seen as a bumbling imbecile. The Raider Nation will know soon whether to celebrate or cry. The Raiders regressed this year, but blowing up the entire coaching staff is not the answer unless Gruden returns. 30-10 Chargers

San Francisco 49ers at Los Angeles Rams — The 49ers started 1-10 but have won 4 straight under Jimmy Garoppollo. The 11-4 Rams clinched the NFC West and Sean McCoy rested all starters. Early on Robbie Gould hit a 33 yard field goal for the 49ers. San Francisco got it back and moved 82 yards. Garoppollo hit Goodwin for an 8 yard touchdown to make it 10-0 49ers. With Sean Mannion in for Jared Goff, it was tough going. However, an interception of Garoppollo had the Rams at the san Francisco 22. Despite 2nd and goal at the 5, Mannion threw incomplete twice. Ficken is the backup kicker and he hit from 23 to get the Rams within 10-3. In the second quarter the 49ers moved 67 yards in 11 plays from their own 4 to a 3rd and 3 at the Rams 29. Garoppollo threw incomplete, but Gould hit from 48 to make it 13-3 49ers. The 49ers got it back at their own 43. Garoppollo went to Kittle for 35 yards. Carlos Hyde ran for an 8 yard touchdown to make it 20-3 49ers.

After the teams traded turnovers, the Rams took over at their own 47 with 9 seconds left in the half. The Hail Mary was caught by the Rams for a 50 yard gain, but they were still 3 yards short. One second remained and Ficken hit the 21 yard field goal as the Rams trailed 20-6 at halftime. In the third quarter the 49ers moved 60 yards and Hyde ran for a 5 yard touchdown to make it 27-6 49ers. In the fourth quarter the 49ers moved 53 yards and Garoppollo hit Robinson for a 12 yard touchdown to make it 34-6 49ers. The Rams got a garbage touchdown to complete the scoring. The 49ers ended the year with 5 straight wins. The 1980 49ers went 6-10 and then Joe Montana in 1981 led them to the beginning of a dynasty. 2018 will see the 49ers with high expectations. As for the 11-5 Rams, there is nothing to learn from or worry about this game. They played their backups, and will host a playoff game next week. Sean McVay is a legitimate coach of the year candidate. 34-13 49ers

Arizona Cardinals at Seattle Seahawks — Rumors were swirling that Bruce Arians, Larry Fitzgerald, and the injured Carson Palmer would all retire after this game. Meanwhile, the 9-6 Seahawks needed a win and an Atlanta loss to make the playoffs. Early on the Cardinals moved 73 yards in 10 plays and 6 minutes. Drew Stanton went to Brown for a 25 yard touchdown to make it 7-0 Cardinals. 12 seconds later Tyler Lockett’s 99 yard kickoff return on the ensuing kickoff made it 7-7. Foster returned the ensuing kickoff 55 yards to the Seattle 43. Phil Dawson hit a 49 yard field goal to make it 10-7 Cardinals. Seattle then punted on 4th and 19 from their own 11 and a shanked 32 yard punt had the Cardinals taking over at the Seattle 36. In the second quarter Penny ran it in from 4 yards out to make it 17-7 Cardinals. With 2 1/2 minutes left in the half the Cardinals faced 3rd and 9 at their own 27. Drew Stanton hit Fitzgerald for 12 yards. Defensive pass interference added 22 more yards. Dawson hit from 46 as the Cardinals led 20-7 at halftime in front of a stunned home crowd.

In the third quarter, the Seahawks finally got going. They moved 80 yards in 10 plays and 6 minutes. On 4th and 6 from the Arizona 35, Russell Wilson found Jimmy Graham for 20 yards. Wilson hit Doug Baldwin for an 18 yard touchdown and the Seahawks were within 20-14. On 1st and 15 from the Arizona 20, Stanton was quickly intercepted on a deep ball. Yet the Arizona defense held and a short 28 yard punt had the Cardinals at their own 46. That was enough for Dawson to nail a 53 yard field goal to make it 23-14 Cardinals. The Seahawks got a punt back and took over at their own 40 and began the fourth quarter with 3rd and 4 at their own 46. Wilson hit McKissic for 14 yards. On 3rd and 1 from the Arizona 31, Wilson threw incomplete. With 13 minutes left in regulation, Pete Carroll opted for the field goal. Blair Walsh hit the 49 yarder to get the Seahawks within 23-17.

A 27 yard punt return by Lockett had the Seahawks taking over at their own 40. They struck right away as Wilson ran for 31 yard and then threw a 29 yard touchdown pass to Doug Baldwin. With 10 1/2 minutes left the Seahawks had come back for a 24-23 lead. After an exchange of punts, the Cardinals soon faced 3rd and 7 at their own 17. Stanton threw incomplete but roughing the passer kept the drive going. On 3rd and 2 just past midfield, Stanton hit Foster for 17 yards. With 2 1/2 minutes left, Dawson came in for a 42 yarder to give the Cardinals the 2 point lead. Dawson was good. After a touchback, Wilson hit Baldwin for 23 yards and Graham for 21 more. With 37 seconds left, Walsh came in for a 48 yard field goal to give the Seahawks the one point lead. Walsh has missed some big kicks in his day, and he missed this one as well. The Seahawks with a win would have missed the playoffs anyway, but the loss at 9-7 was the exclamation point. The Cardinals finished 7-9. If this was Bruce Arians’s final game, he went out in style. 26-24 Cardinals

The 2018 Wildcard Playoff games (all times Eastern) are set:

Saturday, January 6:

4:30 pm: AFC: 5) Tennessee Titans at 4) Kansas City Chiefs

8:15 pm: NFC: 6) Atlanta Falcons at 3) Los Angeles Rams

Sunday, January 7:

1:00 pm: AFC: 6) Buffalo Bills at 3) Jacksonville Jaguars

4:30 pm: NFC) 5) Carolina Panthers at 4) New Orleans Saints

Bye weeks:

AFC: 1) New England Patriots and 2) Pittsburgh Steelers

NFC: 1) Philadelphia Eagles and 2) Minnesota Vikings

eric

NFL 2017 Week 17 Prequel

Sunday, December 31st, 2017

NFL 2017 Week 17 Prequel

The 50TH Vince Lombardi Ice Bowl: NFL 2017 Week 17 Preview and Bettor’s Guide

NFL 2017 Black Monday Predictions

Wednesday, December 27th, 2017

NFL 2017 Black Monday Predictions

2017 Black Monday Predictions – Which NFL Coaches will be fired?

NFL 2017-2018 NFC Playoff Picture

Tuesday, December 26th, 2017

NFL 2017-2018 NFC Playoff Picture

NFL 2017-2018 NFC Playoff Permutations, Combinations and Predictions

NFL 2017-2018 AFC Playoff Picture

Tuesday, December 26th, 2017

NFL 2017-2018 AFC Playoff Picture

NFL 2017-2018 AFC Playoff Permutations, Combinations and Predictions

NFL 2017 Week 16 Recap

Sunday, December 24th, 2017

NFL 2017 Week 16 Recap

Indianapolis Colts at Baltimore Ravens is the Saturday afternoon game. The 8-6 Ravens were supposed to stomp on the lowly Colts at home and get closer to the playoffs. Yet with hard rain coming down, the Colts hung tough most of the game. Early son the Ravens moved 52 yards in 14 plays, holding the ball for 7 1/2 minutes. Justin Tucker hit a 30 yard field goal to make it 3-0 Ravens. The Colts after a touchback then held the ball for over 5 minutes, moving to a 2nd and 7 at the Baltimore 20. However, Jacoby Brissett threw incomplete twice and Adam Vinatieri’s 38 yard field goal try was blocked. The Ravens came back 71 yards in 10 plays. In the second quarter Joe Flacco hit Campanaro for a 6 yard touchdown to make it 10-0 Ravens. The Colts are back 75 yards and Brissett hit Frank Gore for a 14 yard touchdown to get the Colts within 10-7. The Ravens came back 54 yards in 11 plays and 6 minutes. Tucker hit from 39 to make it 13-7 Ravens. With 12 seconds left in the half, the Colts took over at their own 38. With 4 seconds left Vinatieri came in for a 60 yard field goal try. The kick was dead center but just short of the crossbar. Tucker was 2 for 2 and Vinatieri was 0 for 2, the difference in the game at halftime.

In the third quarter the Ravens again moved 57 yards in 11 plays, taking 5 1/2 minutes to do it. Tucker hit from 36 to make it 16-7 Ravens. The Colts then twice moved into scoring position but could not reach the end zone. Vinatieri made field goals of 48 and 38 as the Colts only trailed 16-13 after three quarters. After a touchback, the Ravens began the fourth quarter facing a critical 3rd and 3 at their own 47. Flacco hit Danny Woodhead for 8 yards. On 3rd and 9 from the Indy 44, a completion came up 2 yards short. However, defensive holding meant an automatic first down. On 3rd and 8 from the Indy 37, Flacco threw incomplete, but defensive pass interference meant a 14 yard gain. The Colts had 0 penalties in the first half, but 2 killer defensive penalties came at the worst moments. On 3rd and 2 from the 4, Flacco hit Williams for the touchdown to make it 23-13 with 9 minutes in regulation. The Ravens held the ball for 8 minutes and 14 plays in moving 75 yards.

The Colts responded and held the ball for 13 plays and moved 64 yards. Despite 2nd and 6 from the Baltimore 11, Brissett threw incomplete twice. Needing 2 scores, Chuck Pagano went with the field goal. Vinatieri hit from 30. The Colts were within 7, but only 4 1/2 minutes remained. On 2nd and 8 from the Baltimore 27, Flacco hit Mike Wallace for 14 yards as the Colts took their final timeout with 4:17 to play. With 2:49 left, on 3rd and 5 a false start had the Ravens facing 3rd and 10 as the Ravens took their first timeout. Rather than play it safe and run the clock to near the 2 minute warning, John Harbaugh stayed aggressive. Flacco threw incomplete and the Colts were still alive. Things got even crazier when the Colts blocked the punt. The Colts took over at the Baltimore 27 with 2 1/2 minutes left. Time was no longer a factor. At the 2 minute warning the Colts had 2nd and 3 at the Baltimore 10. Gore lost three yards and Brissett was sacked for a 4 yard loss as the Ravens took all their timeouts on defense. With 1:43 left on 4th and 10 from the 17, Brissett threw incomplete. It was ugly, but the Ravens got to 9-6 with a win that counts the same in the standings. If the Ravens win next week, they are in the playoffs regardless of what anyone else does. 23-16 Ravens

Minnesota Vikings at Green Bay Packers was the Saturday night game. The Packers came in 7-7 and eliminated from playoff contention. Aaron Rodgers was shut down for the year. The Vikings came in 11-3 having locked up the NFC North. The temperature at Lambeau Field was 10 degrees at kickoff. This was football weather for an NFC North black and blue showdown. In the first quarter Kai Forbath hit a 49 yard field goal to make it 3-0 Vikings. Late in the first quarter the Vikings took over at their own 32. At the Green Bay 45, Car Keenum went deep and defensive pass interference meant a 39 yard gain. Keenum then threw a perfect fade to the corner to Diggs for a 4 yard touchdown to make it 10-0 Vikings. Green Bay eventually moved from their own 23 to a 3rd and 3 at the Minnesota 15 with 1:12 left in the half. Brett Hundley was intercepted at the 5 by Smith to keep the Packers scoreless. The second half was all Minnesota defense. Forbath hit from 27 in the third quarter and from 20 in the fourth quarter to complete the scoring. Green Bay got as close as 4th and 3 from the Minnesota 13, but Hundley threw incomplete. Minnesota at 12-3 can clinch a first round bye with a win next week but will need help to get home field throughout the playoffs. 16-0 Vikings

Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Carolina Panthers — Jameis Winston fumbled early and Bryan Cox Jr. recovered it to set up the 10-4 Panthers at the Tampa Bay 32. A defensive facemask penalty meant 1st and 10 at the Tampa 12. Graham Gano hit a 25 yard field goal to make it 3-0 Panthers. The Buccaneers moved 63 yards in 11 plays and 6 minutes. Patrick Murray hit a 31 yard field goal for a 3-3 game. In the second quarter the Panthers moved 71 yards in 10 plays and 5 minutes. Inside the 10, Cam Newton got hurt trying to scramble up the middle on a designed quarterback keeper. Derek Anderson came in and threw incomplete. Gano hit from 28 to make it 6-3 Panthers. The Bucs came back 61 yards and Murray hit from 41 for a 6-6 game. Yet 15 seconds later the game had its first touchdown. Byrd returned the ensuing kickoff 103 yards for the score to make it 12-6 Panthers. The extra point was blocked. The Buccaneers moved from their 25 to a 3rd and goal at the 6 with 13 seconds left. Winston threw incomplete but defensive holding meant 1st and goal at the 3. Winston threw incomplete again and only 5 seconds remained. Dirk Koetter took no chances. Murray hit from 21 to get the Buccaneers within 12-9.

In the third quarter the Panthers moved from their 19 to a 3rd and 8 at their own 45. Newton went deep and was intercepted by Alexander, who returned it 28 yards just past midfield. Winston went deep to Mike Evans for 28 yards and then to Wilson for an 18 yard touchdown to make it 16-12 Buccaneers. The Panthers then moved 68 yards in 12 plays and 5 1/2 minutes. On 4th and 8 from their own 44, Riverboat Ron Rivera called a fake punt. Palardy threw incomplete but defensive pass interference meant a 10 yard gain and a first down. On 3rd and 1 from the Tampa Bay 37, Newton ran for 17 yards. Yet on 3rd and 2 from the Tampa Bay 12, Newton through incomplete. This time ron Rivera went for the 30 yard field goal. Gano hit to get the Panthers within 16-15. The Buccaneers soon faced 3rd and 8 at their own 27. Winston went deep to Martino for a 39 yard gain. On the first play of the fourth quarter, Murray hit a 26 yard field goal to make it 19-15 Buccaneers. The Buccaneers missed a chance to extend the lead with 3 minutes left in regulation when Murray missed from 51.

The ending was inevitable. From the Carolina 41, Newton went to Bersin for 23 yards. On 3rd and 10 from the Tampa 23 with 1:55 left, Newton hit Clay for 11 yards. With 45 seconds left the Panthers faced 4th and 3 at the Tampa Bay 5. The Buccaneers jumped offsides.. Now it was 4th and 1 at the 3. Stewart gained 2 yards and the Bucs took a timeout on defense. From the 2, out of the shotgun, bizarroworld happened. Newton fumbled the snap, picked it up, and barreled forward into the end zone. With 35 seconds left the Panthers had the 3 point lead. After a touchback, Winston was quickly sacked and fumbled the ball away. An angry Winston had a meltdown after the game and had to be restrained by teammates. Meanwhile the Panthers are 11-4 and in the playoffs. They are tied for the NFC South lead. 22-19 Panthers

Cleveland Browns at Chicago Bears — The 0-14 Browns played in snow against a Chicago team that was not much better. The Bears took 5 minutes to move 57 yards. Howard ran for a 2 yard touchdown to make it 6-0 Bears. The extra point was blocked. Zane Gonzalez hit a 49 yard field goal end the half with the Browns only trailing 6-3. On the first play of the third quarter, the Bears took over at their own 40. Trubisky was intercepted by Myles Garrettt, who returned it 37 yards to the Chicago 5. Yet defensive holding nullified the interception. These are the Browns. On 3rd and 16 from their own 44, Trubisky hit bennie Cunningham for 40 yards and then Howard ran for a 16 yard touchdown to make it 13-3 Bears. Chicago got it back and moved 66 yards in 12 plays and 7 1/2 minutes. Trubisky ran for a 4 yard touchdown to complete the scoring in a scoreless fourth quarter. The Browns are 0-15 and have locked up the first pick in the 2018 Draft. Now they have one more week to avoid infamy. 20-3 Bears

Detroit Lions at Cincinnati Bengals — Late in the first quarter a short punt had the Lions taking over at their own 48. On 3rd and 5 from the Cincy 33, Matthew Stafford went deep to Eric Ebron for the touchdown and the 7-0 lead for the 8-6 Lions. In the second quarter the Bengals twice drove into the red zone and twice could not reach the end zone. Randy Bullock hit field goals of 29 and 27 yards as the Bengals trailed 7-6 at halftime. In the third quarter the Lions moved 61 yards in 11 plays and 5 1/2 minutes. Yet the Lions could not finish and settled for a 23 yard Matt Prater field goal and a 10-6 Lions lead. The Bengals soon faced 2nd and 12 at their own 23. Red Rifle Andy Dalton went deep incomplete but defensive pass interference meant a 25 yard gain. Dalton then went to Hill for 34 yards. Dalton hit CJ Uzomah for a one yard touchdown to make it 13-10 Bengals. The Lions quickly moved from their 24 to a 3rd and 2 at the Cincy 32. Stafford threw incomplete and Prater then missed the 50 yard field goal try that would have tied the game.

In the fourth quarter the Bengals moved 43 yards in 11 plays. Bullock hit from 35 to make it 16-10 Lions. After a touchback, the Lions soon faced 4th and 1 at the Cincy 46. Jim Caldwell decided to go for it, a false start led him to punt. Then running into the kicker made it 4th and 1 again and Caldwell went for it again. Green gained 12 yards. Stafford went deep to Ebron for 29 yards. Green ran for a 5 yard touchdown. With 10 minutes left in regulation the Lions led 17-16. The Bengals fumbled the ensuing kickoff but retained possession at their own 14. On 3rd and 12 from their own 35, Dalton threw incomplete but defensive holding kept the drive going. Another defensive pass interference call added 9 more yards. Bullock drilled a 51 yard field goal and the Bengals retook the lead 19-17 with 4:42 to play. Penalties killed the Lions on their next series. On 3rd and 28 from their own 7, Stafford went deep to Golden Tate. It was ruled incomplete, but there was a chance Tate caught it. With 3:49 left, Jim Caldwell surprisingly decided not to challenge the call. A short 33 yard punt had the Bengals taking over at the Detroit 40. At the 2 minute warning, everything came down to the Bengals facing 3rd and 6 at the Detroit 12. Giovanni Bernard got the carry and the touchdown to put the game away. The Lions dropped to 8-7 and are out of the playoffs. 26-17 Bengals

Miami Dolphins at Kansas City Chiefs The 6-8 Dolphins saw Jarvis Landry fumble to set the Chiefs up near midfield. Harrison Butker hit a 31 yard field goal to put the 8-6 Chiefs up 3-0. Miami held the ball for 12 plays and 6 minutes. Cody Parkey hit a 44 yard field goal for a 3-3 game. The second quarter began with the Chiefs facing 3rd and 15 at their own 35. Alex Smith went deep to Tyreeq Hill for a 52 yard gain. On 3rd and 5 from the 9, Smith fired over the middle to Travis Kelce for the touchdown to make it 10-3 Chiefs. Miami again drove down the field 65 yards but settled for a 28 yard Parkey field goal to get the dolphins within 10-6. The Chiefs came back 68 yards and Kareem Hunt ran for a one yard touchdown to make it 17-6 Chiefs. The Dolphins came right back when a short pass from Cutler to Jakeem Grant followed by some terrible tackling attempts went for a 65 yard touchdown as the Dolphins trailed 17-13.

However Miami got it back and a shanked punt of 25 yards had the Chiefs taking over at their own 45 with 49 seconds left. From midfield Smith went to Hill for 33 yards. Harrison Butker did the rest. He hit from 32 to end the half with the Chiefs up 20-13. In the third quarter, the Chiefs quickly faced 3rd and 2 at their own 44. Smith kept it himself and gained nothing, but defensive holding kept the drive going. From the Miami 42, Smith went deep to Charles for a 35 yard gain. On 3rd and goal at the 3, Smith hit Hill for what appeared to be a touchdown. Officials ruled that Hill did not complete the catch. Andy Reid challenged the call unsuccessfully. Butker hit from 21 to make it 23-13 Chiefs. In the fourth quarter Butker hit field goals of 29 and 49 to put the game away. His 5 field goals were difference. The 6-9 Dolphins are now officially eliminated from the playoffs while the 9-6 Chiefs clinched the AFC West for the second year in a row. This is the first time in franchise history the Chiefs have done so, making Andy Reid one Happy Walrus Lite. 29-13 Chiefs

Buffalo Bills at New England Patriots — The 8-6 Bills were trying to knock off the 12-2 Patriots. Buffalo held the ball for 16 plays and 8 minutes, settling for a 41 yard Steve Hauschka field goal to make it 3-0 Bills. The Patriots moved 79 yards in 13 plays and 6 minutes. On 3rd and 2 from the Buffalo 3, Tom Brady threw high and incomplete. Stephen Gostkowski hit the 21 yard field goal for a 3-3 game. The Bills came back and moved to a 3rd and 2 at the New England 7. After Tyrod Taylor threw incomplete, Sean McDermott made the curious decision to go for it. Taylor scrambled for his life and was sacked. In the second quarter Brady was intercepted by Poyer, who returned it 19 yards for a touchdown and a 10-3 Bills lead. It was the 5th game in a row Brady has been intercepted, which has not happened to him in 15 years. The Patriots came back 75 yards. Brady hit Rob Gronkowski for a 17 yard one-handed touchdown catch for a 10-10 game.

The Patriots moved 66 yards On 4th and 1 at the Buffalo 22, Bill Belichick initially decided to go for it and then reversed himself. Gostkowski hit from 40 to make it 13-10 Patriots at the 2 minute warning. The Bills soon faced 3rd and 10 at their own 25. Taylor hit Kelvin Benjamin for 15 yard. On 3rd and 2 from their own 48, Taylor hit LeSean Shady McCoy for just enough. On 3rd and 2 from the New England 42, Taylor went deep to Thompson for a 33 yard gain. With 13 seconds left, the Bills had 1st and goal at the 4. Taylor threw incomplete twice, leaving 6 seconds. On 3rd and goal Taylor fired to Benjamin for the touchdown. Yet on further review officials ruled Benjamin did not get both feet down inbounds. The call was incomplete and 2 seconds remained. Hauschka hit from 23 for a 13-13 game at the break. After a touchback to start the third quarter, the Bills moved to a 1st and goal at the New England 10. Taylor threw a short pass that actually lost 8 yards to kill the drive. Hauschka hit from 30 to make it 16-13 Bills. Could the Bills get the upset?

The Patriots came back 59 yards in 13 plays and 5 1/2 minutes. On 4th and 1 from the Buffalo 26, Bill Belichick went for it and Dion Lewis got stopped. Belichick challenged the spot and won. On 3rd and 5 from the Buffalo 10, Brady was sacked. Gostkowski hit from 34 for a 16-16 game. The Patriots got it back at their own 35. Mike Gillislee gained 7 and 12. Brady hit Gronkowski for 16 yards. From the Buffalo 30, Brady went deep and defensive pass interference meant 1st and goal at the one. Gillislee got the yard and the touchdown against his former team to make it 23-16 Patriots with one minute left in the third quarter. Early in the fourth quarter the Bills faced 3rd and 2 at the New England 33. McCoy only gained one yard. On 4th and 1 Sean McDermott surprisingly decided not to go for it. The 50 yard field goal try by Hauschka was wide no good by a mile. The Patriots took over at their own 40. Brady hit Allen for 22 yards. On 3rd and 11 from the Buffalo 12, a short pass to Lewis saw him slice up the middle for the touchdown to make it 30-16 Patriots with 9 1/2 minutes left in regulation. The Patriots got it back and moved 54 yards, with Lewis running for a 4 yard touchdown to turn a tight game into a blowout. 24 unanswered points got the Patriots to 12-3. New England would clinch a first round bye later in the day. A win next week would lock up home field for New England. Buffalo at 8-7 needs to win next week and get help to make the playoffs. 37-16 Patriots

Atlanta Falcons at New Orleans Saints — The 9-5 Falcons took on the 10-4 Saints in a battle for the NFC South division lead. Will Lutz hit a 40 yard field goal to make it 3-0 Saints. Lutz tacked on a 29 yarder with 1:15 left in the half to make it 6-0 Saints. The Falcons soon faced 3rd and 10 at their own 48. Matt Ryan was intercepted and the Saints took over at their own 36 with 50 seconds left. From their 46 with 22 seconds left, Brees went deep to Ted Ginn Jr. for a 54 yard touchdown bomb as the Saints led 13-0 at the intermission. In the third quarter the Saints faced 1st and 20 at their own 38 after a holding penalty. A short pass by Brees bounced right off of Ginns’s hands and was intercepted by jones, who returned it 41 yards to the New Orleans 2 yard line. Yet on 2nd and goal from the one, Devontae Freeman got the carry and got blasted. He fumbled and Manti Teo recovered for the Saints at the 4 yard line. The Falcons got it back at the Saints 48. On 3rd and 5 from the Saints 19, Matty Ice threw incomplete. Matt Bryant hit the 37 yard field goal and the Falcons were finally on the board.

The Saints got it back and made it look easy from their own 46. Brees hit Thomas for 24 yards. Mark Ingram then ran for a 26 yard touchdown to make it 20-3 Saints. After a touchback the Falcons moved to a 3rd and goal at the 6. On the last play of the third quarter, Ryan hit Julio Jones for the touchdown, but officials ruled Jones down at the one. Dan Quinn unsuccessfully challenged the call. On the first play of the fourth quarter, Quinn went for it on 4th and goal at the one. Freeman got the carry and got stopped cold. 2 goal line stands in one game by an inspired Saints defense had kept the Falcons out of the end zone. Bryant did hit a 48 yard fourth quarter field goal, but Lutz answered from 45 with 3 1/2 minutes to play to make it 23-6 Saints and lock up the win. Atlanta got a garbage touchdown but the Falcons dropped to 9-6 and in a precarious position. The 11-4 Saints clinched a playoff spot and are tied for the NFC South lead. 23-13 Saints

Los Angeles Chargers at New York Jets — With nothing to play for, the Jets began with Todd Bowles calling a surprise onside kick that was successful. Bryce Petty threw a 50 yard touchdown bomb to Robbie Anderson, but offensive pass interference nullified it. In the second quarter the Chargers moved 71 yards in 12 plays and 6 minutes. On 3rd and 2 from the Jets 5, Philip Rivers threw incomplete but defensive pass interference meant a new set of downs. On 1st and goal at the one the Chargers fumbled the snap but retained possession. on the next play Rivers fired over the middle to Antonio Gates for a 3 yard touchdown to make it 7-0 Chargers. The Jets came right back when Powell ran for a 41 yard gain down to the Chargers 31. However, the Jets then quickly fumbled the ball away. In the third quarter a short pass from Rivers to Melvin Gordon went for 31 yards. Yet on 2nd and 9 from the Jets 29, Rivers threw incomplete twice. Nick Rose missed a 47 yard field goal. The Jets soon faced 3rd and 4 at their own 43. Powell got around the end and dragged tacklers for a 57 yard touchdown run. Rather than trailing 10-0, the Jets had tied the game 7-7. After a touchback, Gordon ran for gains of 9 and 19. On 1st and 15 from the Jets 25, Rivers hit McGrath for 23 yards. Gordon got in from the one to put the Chargers back up by 7. The Jets moved from their 30 to a 3rd and 7 at the Chargers 17 with 3 minutes left in regulation. Petty threw incomplete twice and the Jets were done. The 8-7 Chargers cannot win their division but can make the playoffs as a wildcard with a win next week and some help. 14-7 Chargers.

Los Angeles Rams at Tennessee Titans — Rams kicker Greg “the Leg” Zuerlein is now out for the year with an injured back. This led to the Rams punting from the Tennessee 32 rather than trying a 50 yard field goal. Marcus Mariota was then intercepted, and Jaed Goff threw a 50 yard completion to Cooper Kupp. Goff hit Todd Gurley for a 3 yard touchdown to make it 6-0 Rams. Sam Ficken was working at a stockbrokerage firm earlier this week. Now he was kicking in place of Zuerlein. He missed his first extra point try. The Titans moved 62 yards in 14 plays and took over 7 1/2 minutes to do it. Yet they settled for a 25 yard field goal by Ryan succor to get the Titans within 6-3. From the Rams 11, Goff got belted and fumbled. Woodyard recovered it and returned it 4 yards for a touchdown and a 10-6 Titans lead. The Rams came right back. A short pass from Goff to Gurley saw Gurley split the seams and race for an 80 yard touchdown to make it 13-10 Rams. The Titans moved 56 yards in 11 plays to end the half. Succop hit from 37 for a 13-13 ballgame.

The Rams in the third quarter from their own 35 saw Gurley catch a pass for 9 yards and run for 34 more yards. On 3rd and 3 from the Tennessee 15, Goff thought he gained enough. mike malarkey challenged the spot and it was reversed to 4th and 1 at the 13. Sean McVay went for it and Gurley gained 10 yards. On the next play Goff hit Watkins for the touchdown to make it 20-13 Rams. A 57 yard kickoff return by Jackson had the Titans at the Rams 44. On 3rd and 6 from the Rams 40, Marcus Mariots found Rishard Matthews for a 25 yard gain. DeMarco Murray ran for a 6 yard touchdown for a 20-20 game. Mike Mularkey called a surprise onside kick while the Rams were still on the sideline huddling. The officials ruled that play had not started yet. The Titans would kick it off and get it back at their own 27. Mariota hit Eric Decker for 25 yards. On 3rd and 3 from the Rams 38, Mariota hit Mathews for 23 yards. The fourth quarter began with the Titans facing 3rd and 4 at the Rams 9 as rain started to come down. Mariota was chased out of bounds after an incompletion. Succop hit from 27 for a 23-20 Titans lead.

From the Rams 32, Gurley gained 9 and a deep ball drew a defensive pass interference penalty of 31 yards. On 3rd and 6 from the Titans 14 Goff went to the right corner for Cupp, who made a diving catch and got one knee inbounds for the touchdown and the 4 point Rams lead with 12 minutes left in regulation. With 3 1/2 minutes left the Titans began their last drive at their own 20. They moved to a 4th and 4 at the Rams 43 with 1:45 to play. Mariota threw incomplete and the Titans were done. The 11-4 Rams clinched the NFC West for the first time since 2003 and will host a playoff game for the first time in Los Angeles since 1985. The 8-7 Titans have lost 3 straight. Their division is out of reach, but with one win next week they still make the playoffs. 27-23 Rams

Denver Broncos at Washington Redskins — In the first quarter the Broncos held the ball for 6 minutes and 10 plays yet moved only 31 yards. Brandon McManus hit a 31 yard field goal to make it 3-0 Broncos. In the second quarter the Redksins moved 83 yards in 11 plays and over 5 minutes. Dustin Hopkins hit a 26 yard field goal to tie the game 3-3. The Broncos soon faced 3rd and 5 at their own 41. Brock Osweiler was hit and fumbled and the Redskins recovered at the Denver 38. Kirk Cousins hit Jamison Crowder for a 15 yard touchdown to make it 10-3 Redskins just before the 2 minute warning. The second half was all Washington. Hopkins hit a 29 yard field goal in the third quarter to make it 13-3 Redskins. In the fourth quarter Kirk Cousins threw touchdown passes of 48 yards to Josh Doctson and 31 yards to Vernon Davis to make it 27-3 Redskins. Denver got a garbage touchdown but the Broncos now have double digit losses, a fate Washington avoided. 27-11 Redskins.

Jacksonville Jaguars at San Francisco 49ers — The 10-4 Jaguars found out before the game started that they had clinched the AFC South. The 49ers were 4-10 but had won 3 straight under Jimmy Garoppollo. In the first quarter the 49ers moved 79 yards in 10 plays. Garoppollo ran for a one yard touchdown to make it 7-0 49ers. The 49ers got it back and moved 54 yards. Robbie Gould hit a 27 yard field goal to make it 10-0 49ers after the first quarter. In the second quarter Bortles had a pass deflected and intercepted by Dante Johnson, who returned it 50 yards for a touchdown to make it 16-0 49ers.

The extra point try was blocked and returned all the way the other way for a Jacksonville score. Rather than trailing 17-0, the Jaguars were down 16-2. The Jaguars got it back and moved 75 yards in 11 plays and 6 minutes. On 3rd and 12 from their own 23, Bortles threw incomplete but defensive pass interference meant a 23 yard gain. On 3rd and 6 after a Bortles fumble was reversed to an incompletion, TJ Yeldon from the Frisco 42 gained just enough. From the Frisco 20, Bortles hit Westbrook for 19 and Leonard Fournette got the last yard to get the Jaguars within 16-9. After a touchback, the 49ers moved ta 3rd and goal at the 7 with 1:45 left in the half. Garoppollo went to the end zone and was intercepted by Church with 1:40 left in the half. From the Jacksonville 33, Bortles hit Cole for 24 yards and Yeldon for 20 more. From the San Francisco 5, Bortles threw a pass to the end zone that bounced off a receiver’s hands straight into the arms of Jalen Strong of a touchdown. Rather than trailing 24-7, the Jaguars had tied the game 16-16. After a touchback to start the third quarter, the Jaguars soon faced 2nd and 6 from their own 42. Bortles went deep to Cole for a 32 yard gain. The drive died there but Josh Lambo hit a 45 yard field goal to give the Jaguars their first lead up 19-16. After 19 unanswered points, the game changed again.

Jacksonville got it back and soon faced 3rd and 7 at their own 35. Bortles was intercepted by Williams, who returned it 27 yards to the Jacksonville 26. On 3rd and 3 from the Jacksonville 8, Garoppollo fired to Kittle for the touchdown to put the 49ers back in front 23-19. The 49ers got it back at their own 14. A taunting penalty on the defense moved the ball to the Frisco 31. From the Frisco 45, an unnecessary roughness penalty on the defense moved the ball to Jacksonville 40. In the fourth quarter, on 3rd and 2 from the Jacksonville 11, defensive holding meant 1st and goal at the 4. On 3rd and goal at the 5, Garoppollo hit Taylor for the touchdown. The 86 yard, 13 play, 6 1/2 minute drive had the 49ers up 30-19 with 10 1/2 minutes left in regulation. After a touchback Bortles was then immediately intercepted for the third time, setting up the 49ers at the Jacksonville 18. Carlos Hyde ran for a 6 yard touchdown. Now it was 21 straight points by the 49ers to make it 37-19 49ers.

The Jaguars moved 85 yards in 16 plays. Yeldon got in from the one and Bortles hit Boyack for the 2 point conversion to get the Jaguar within 37-27. The Jaguars recovered the onside kick at the San Francisco 46. with 2:13 left and all 3 timeouts. Bortles hit Strong for 19. Bortles then scrambled for 16 and hit James O’Shaunessy for an 11 yard touchdown. With 1:50 to play the Jaguars were within 4 points. Lambo doinked the critical extra point off the upright no good. This time the onside kick failed. The 49ers took over at their own 49. The Jaguars still had all 3 timeouts. With 90 seconds left the 49ers faced 3rd and 8 at the Jacksonville 30. A first down would end it and a stop would give Jacksonville a chance at a stirring comeback. Breida took the pitchout and raced all the way around the end for the clinching touchdown. The 5-10 49ers have won 4 straight and will be a serious contender next year. The Jaguars fell to 10-5 but still have an outside shot a first round bye. 44-33 49ers

New York Giants at Arizona Cardinals — Both teams are done for the year but a loss would ensure the Giants get the second pick in the 2018 NFL Draft. Arizona drove 46 yards but could not finish the drive after 5 minutes. Phil Dawson hit the 21 yard field goal to make it 3-0 Cardinals. In the second quarter the Giants failed to convert on 3rd and 1 from the Arizona 15 and then Aldrick Rosas missed a 33 yard field goal that would have tied the game. With 3 minutes left in the half the Cardinals took over at their own 21. On 3rd and 5 from their own 37, Drew Stanton hit Larry Fitzgerald for 23 yards. On 3rd and 3 from the Giants 33, Stanton threw incomplete but roughing the passer kept the drive going. On 3rd and 5 from the Giants 13, Stanton hit Fitzgerald for the touchdown as the Cardinals took a 10-0 lead to the locker rooms. In the third quarter the Cardinals moved 75 yards in 11 plays and 5 1/2 minutes. Drew stanton threw a 15 yard touchdown pass to Brown as the Cardinals led 16-0 after the failed extra point. On the first play of the fourth quarter, the Giants faced 3rd and 2 at their own 28. Eli Manning was sacked and fumbled. Nkemdiche returned it 21 yards for a touchdown as a miserable Giants season ended miserably. 23-0 Cardinals.

Seattle Seahawks at Dallas Cowboys — Both teams came in 8-6 knowing that a loss would officially eliminate them from playoff contention. After a scoreless first quarter, the Cowboys held the ball for 11 plays and 6 minutes. Dan Bailey hit a 34 yard field goal to make it 3-0 Cowboys. Dallas got it back and held it for another 5 1/2 minutes. Bailey hit from 51 to make it 6-0 Cowboys. The Cowboys were in chronological until Dez Bryant fumbled a reception and the Seahawks recovered at the Dallas 43. Russell Wilson hit Davis for 12 and ran for 14 more. Defensive pass interference put the ball on the one. Out of the shotgun, Wilson fumbled but the Seahawks retained possession. Wilson hit Jimmy Graham for a 5 yard touchdown as the Cowboys led 7-6 with 90 seconds left in the half. Dallas soon faced 3rd and 2 at their own 26 with 47 seconds left. Michael Bennett jumped offsides. From midfield, Prescott hit Williams for 17 yards. Bailey hit from 51 with 3 seconds left in the half to make it 9-7 Cowboys.

In the third quarter from the Dallas 29, Prescott was intercepted bu Coleman. Coleman returned it 30 yards for a touchdown as the Seahawks now led 14-9. Dallas got it back at their own 35. A deep ball drew a 43 yard defensive pass interference penalty. Yet the drive died there. Bailey hit a 39 yard field goal as the Cowboys got within 14-12. Dallas got it back at their own 31. From their own 44, Prescott went to Bryant for a 33 yard gain. 2 plays later a short pass to Bryant bounced off his hands and was intercepted by Wright at the Seattle 21. On 3rd and 9 from their 22, Wilson scrambled for 10. On 3rd and 7 from their own 35, Wilson went to Doug Baldwin for 20 yards. On 2nd and 10 from the Dallas 22, a short gain saw a defensive facemask penalty that meant 1st and goal at the 10. Wilson threw a 6 yard touchdown pass to Baldwin to put the Seahawks up by 9 with 12 minutes left in regulation.

After a touchback Dallas moved all the way to a 2nd and goal at the 2. Jason Witten was called for offensive holding. Prescott was then sacked for an 11 yard loss. Needing 2 scores, Bailey came in for a 34 yard try, having already made 4 of 4. In front of a shellshocked home crowd, one of the most accurate kickers of all time missed it wide with 5 1/2 minutes left. Dallas got it back at their own 39 with 2:40 to play. With 1:05 left the Cowboys had 1st and 5 at the Seattle 30. Needing 2 scores, Jason Garrett brought in Bailey for the field goal. From 48 yards out, Bailey was again no good and the Cowboys were done. Dallas is 8-7 and out of the playoffs. Seattle is 9-6 and needs to win and get help next week to make the playoffs. 21-12 Seahawks

Pittsburgh Steelers at Houston Texans was the Christmas Monday afternoon game.  The Steelers are a good team. The Texans are a bad team. Sometimes it really is that simple. The Steelers quickly moved 59 yards and Chris Boswell hit a 34 yard field goal to start the scoring. Pittsburgh got it back and moved 54 yards quickly. Ben Roethlisberger threw a 5 yard touchdown pass to Hunter for a 5 yard touchdown to make it 10-0 Steelers. In the second quarter the Texans moved from their 34 to a 2nd and goal at the one. Alfred Blue took the wildcat snap and did not get in. On 3rd and goal TJ Yates threw incomplete. Bill O’Brien decided to go for it on 4th and goal at the one. Yates went to the end zone and was intercepted. The Steelers then soon faced 3rd and 6 at their own 24. Roethlisberger hit LeVeon Bell for 7 yards. Bell then ran for 22 more. On 3rd and 12 from the Houston 32, Big Ben hit Martavius Bryant for just enough. On the next play defensive pass interference meant 1st and goal at the one. Nix got in for the touchdown to make it 17-0 Steelers. Houston then faced 3rd and 5 at their own 30. Yates was sacked and fumbled and the Steelers recovered at the Houston 29. Boswell hit from 36 for a 20-0 Steelers lead at halftime.

With less than 30 seconds left in the half, a Texans team already without DeShaun Watson and Tom Savage saw TJ Yates get injured. Fourth string quarterback Taylor Heinecke was on the practice squad until 2 weeks ago. Now he began his NFL debut under the toughest of circumstances. The second half was uneventful. LeVeon Bell ran for a 10 yard touchdown in the third quarter to make it 27-0 Steelers. The Texans avoided the shutout when TJ Yates went to Deandre Hopkins for a 3 yard touchdown. Hopkins made the catch of the year by deflecting it to himself and getting both feet down. Pittsburgh was underwhelmed, moving 79 yards. Big Ben hit Juju Smith-Schuster for an 18 yard touchdown to complete the scoring. The 12-3 Steelers locked up a first round bye, but will need a win next week and a New England loss to get home field throughout the playoffs. 34-6 Steelers

Oakland Raiders at Philadelphia Eagles was the Christmas Monday night game. The 12-2 Eagles were expected to easily blow out the eliminated 6-8 Raiders and lock up home field throughout the playoffs. Carson Wentz is injured, but Nick Foles in 2013 threw 7 touchdowns against the Raiders. These Raiders have a weak secondary. Cue retired ESPN uber-announcer Chris Berman: “THAT’s why they play the games.” The Oakland defense actually held the Eagles to a 3 and out to start the game. The Raiders took over at their own 40 and even gained a first down. Yet despite 3rd and 4 from the Philadelphia 44, consecutive offensive penalties meant 3rd and 14. Derek Carr hit Smith for 12 yards. Jack Del Rio decided to go for it on 4th and 2 at the Philly 42. It was the right decision, but this is not 2016. Nothing is working. Carr rolled out and threw incomplete.

The Eagles soon faced 3rd and 5 at the Oakland 42. Clement ran for a 12 yard gain. On 3rd and 1 from the Oakland 21, Jay Ajayi got stopped. On 4th and 1 Doug Pederson decided to go for it. Clement gained 2 yards. Nick Foles threw a 17 yard touchdown pass to Ajayi to make it 7-0 Eagles. The 11 play, 58 yard drive took nearly 6 1/2 minutes, and it seemed the rout was on. The Raiders went 3 and out when Carr threw an incomplete deep ball on 3rd and 3 from his own 36. The Eagles soon faced 3rd and 7 at their own 23 Foles threw incomplete, but defensive holding on TJ Carrie kept the drive going. Yet on 3rd and 4 from the Philly 34 to start the second quarter, Foles threw incomplete. The Raiders got it back at their own 26. From their own 37, Carr went bombs away to Amari cooper for a 63 yard touchdown. Just like that, the game was tied 7-7.

Again the Raiders held on defense and got the ball back at their own 13. On 3rd and 5 Carr was sacked, but the Eagles jumped offside. The Raiders moved all the way to a 1st and 10 at the Philadelphia 47. On 3rd and 10 Carr went deep to Cooper for a 45 yard gain. Yet instead of 1st and goal at the 2, offensive holding made it 3rd and 20. An illegal block on the next play wiped out a 16 yard gain and instead meant 3rd and 28. The Raiders killed themselves with dumb penalties and punted. The Eagles took over at their 24 with 3 minutes left in the half. Foles hit Zac Ertz for 25 yards and it looked like the late defensive collapse was well under way. On 3rd and 8 just past midfield, Fles threw incomplete. Yet defensive holding meant an automatic first down. On 3rd and 3 from the Oakland 37, Foles threw incomplete with 41 seconds left. dOUG peterson decided to go for it and Foles hit Ertz for 4 yards. Despite 2nd and 4 at the Oakland 15, Foles threw incomplete twice. The Raiders had held. With 15 seconds left Jake Elliott came in for a 33 yard chip shot to give the Eagles the lead. It was no good. Elliott just missed it.

After a touchback to start the third quarter, the Raiders went pure smash mouth and ran the ball down Philadelphia’s throat. They ran right at the Eagles. Marshawn Lynch ran for 16 yards, and after a defensive holding call, Jalen Richard ran for a 34 yard gain. The Raiders reached 3rd and 3 at the Philadelphia 6 without throwing a single pass. Yet instead of trying a draw play, Carr threw to Michael Crabtree, who dropped what would have been a touchdown. Georgio Tavecchio hit the 25 yard field goal as the Raiders led 10-7. They had a legitimate shot at the upset of the year. The defense even held again on the next series. The Raiders got it back at their own 37. They had to keep running the ball to have a chance to win.

Instead Carr threw incomplete and a draw play was blown up in the backfield as the Raiders quickly went 3 and out. The Eagles took over at their own 22. Normally on Christmas Day it would not be good to have a Jihad blow up someone, but Raiders defensive pass rusher Jihad Rusher blew up Nick Foles for a 9 yard loss. The Eagles punted on 4th and 19 from their own 7 and the Raiders took over just shy of midfield. Again, they had to keep running the ball to have a chance to win. On 3rd and 5 from the Philly 47, Carr fired over the middle and was intercepted by Robinson, who returned it 19 yards to the Oakland 44. The Oakland defense was playing lights out and the offense was giving it away. Jay Ajayi quickly ran for a 14 yard gain, but the Oakland defense came up big again and ripped it out of his hands. The Raiders recovered the fumble at their own 30. On the very next play Lynch fumbled it right back to the Eagles. Again the defense held. On 3rd and 9 from the Oakland 17, a pass by Foles bounced off of one Eagles receiver and just barely hit the ground before another one could scoop it up. Elliott came in for a 35 yard field goal try to tie it. This time he was good and the game was tied 10-10.

From the Oakland 31, the Raiders went right back to Lynch for a 15 yard gain. Yet 2 more Lynch runs left the Raiders facing 3rd and 8 from their own 48 as the third quarter ended. The fourth quarter began with Carr getting sacked and fumbling. The Raiders retained possession and punted. The Eagles took over at their own 27. On 3rd and 12, a bad snap still left Foles plenty of time. Yet he was sacked for a 16 yard loss. The Eagles punted on 4th and 28 at their own 9. The Raiders took over again with excellent field position at their own 49. The Oakland defense was still playing lights out. If the Oakland offense could do anything right, they could win this game. On 3rd and 1, Lynch banged up the gut for 2 yards. On 2nd and 8 from the Philly 38, Carr threw a duck that should have been intercepted but was dropped incomplete. On 3rd and 8,, Carr went deep incomplete. Yet illegal contact on the defense gave the Raiders 1st and 10 at the Philly 33. The Raiders were in long field goal range but were going against the wind. On 3rd and 7 from the Philly 30, Carr rolled out and threw it away. Georgio Tavecchio came in for a 48 yard field goal to give the Raiders the lead. In a season gone wrong, he hooked it wide no good with 8 minutes remaining.

The Eagles took over at their own 38 and disaster immediately struck. Foles rolled out and threw high to Ertz. It bounced off Ertz’s fingers and was intercepted by Reggie Nelson. The Raiders took over at the Philadelphia 37. All the Raiders needed to do was run the ball and eat up the clock. Instead Carr threw incomplete. On 2nd and 10, Lynch bulldozed for an 11 yard gain but offensive holding instead meant 2nd and 20. A short pass to Richard went for a 23 yard gain. The Raiders were now in total control. Richard ran for a 9 yard gain to the Philly 15, but these are the Raiders. Richard fumbled and the Eagles recovered at their own 16 with 6 1/2 minutes to play. The Oakland defense was all heart and guts, and the Oakland offense wasted every single opportunity.

On 3rd and 5 from the Philly 21, Foles threw incomplete. The Eagles were averaging 387 yards of offense per game. With 5 minutes left they only had 197 yards. They were 1 for 12 on 3rd downs. Again the Raiders had excellent field position at their own 41. Yet unless the Oakland offense could do something right, it would not matter. They could not. The Raiders went 3 and out. With 2 1/2 minutes left the Eagles fumbled the punt but were lucky to retain possession at their own 12. A run by Ajayi was blown up in the backfield for a 6 yard loss as the Eagles faced 2nd and 16 at their own 6 at the 2 minute warning. On 3rd and 12, Foles threw incomplete. The Raiders got the ball back at their own 46 yard line with 1:07 to play. The defense had done everything it could. The offense needed 2 first downs.

Carr threw a short pass that was immediately intercepted. In a season gone wrong, the Raiders kept killing themselves. Although it appeared the ball touched the ground, nobody knows what a catch is anymore. The interception stood and now the Eagles had the ball at their own 48 with 54 seconds left. The ending was inevitable. Foles dinked and dunked. With 27 seconds left Elliott came in for a 48 yard try to win it. Anyone who has watched the Raiders this year new it would be good, and it was. The Raiders got it back at their own 36 with all 3 timeouts and 17 seconds left. Carr threw a short pass incomplete that left 14 seconds. Carr again tried to dump it off incomplete as 10 seconds remained. The Raiders took a timeout to talk over how to best lose the game. Under a heavy rush Carr threw incomplete again with 3 seconds remaining. The Raiders took another timeout to give their fans a chance to curse their offense some more. Rather than try a Hail Mary, the Raiders tried the hook and lateral that was fumbled and returned for a defensive touchdown. The Eagles at 13-2 locked up home field throughout the playoffs. The 6-9 Raiders will have the entire offseason to think about what a bunch of gutless, heartless screwups they are. 19-10 Eagles