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The NFL regular season is done. We saw one New York team clinch a spot, another one blow it and an NFL record three quarterbacks finish the season with over 5,000 passing yards.
The NFL playoff picture is now officially set following the New York Giants victory over the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday Night Football. The final regular season game of the season was perhaps the most important of the day as the NFC East's playoff berth was up for grabs between the divisional rivals.
The Giants were able to hold off a second half comeback from the Cowboys, spurred by a pair of touchdowns from Tony Romo to Laurent Robinson, as running back Ahmad Bradshaw and Eli Manning led the way to a win. It's the Giants first playoff berth since the 2008 season, following a two-year drought despite winning eight and ten games respectively.
The final seeding for the NFC playoff picture ended up as such:
The Giants will face the Atlanta Falcons at home on Sunday, Jan. 8, in a game scheduled to kick off at 1 p.m. on Fox.
Rashard Mendenhall's right knee injury has gone from "will need an MRI" to "could be a torn ACL" in record time. ESPN's Adam Schefter reports that the Steelers do not expect Mendenhall to play against the Denver Broncos in next week's AFC Wild Card round match-up, and Scott Brown of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports that Steelers coach Mike Tomlin thinks Mendenhall's injury could be a torn ACL.
If Tomlin's fears are confirmed, that leaves the Steelers without the most important cog of their running game as they attempt to repeat as the AFC's Super Bowl representatives in the 2011 NFL playoffs. Mendenhall had 928 rushing yards in the regular season; every other Steelers runner combined had a total of 975 rushing yards.
Pittsburgh's offense is not a run-first one, nor one that is overly dependent on Mendenhall, thanks to Ben Roethlisberger, Mike Wallace, and Antonio Brown. But Mendenhall's loss might damage their chances in the playoffs substantially.
The Arizona Cardinals needed overtime to beat the Seattle Seahawks in their season finale. Arizona finishes 8-8 and in second place in the NFC West.
The 2012 NFL Draft order is taking shape. With just one regular season game left to play, all but one of the spots for non-playoffs teams has been determined.
The Oakland Raiders would have made it into the playoffs with a win, but fell apart against the San Diego Chargers
Baltimore got a win and the AFC North championship. But the Bengals got a Wild Card berth despite their loss.
The Atlanta Falcons won their final game of the season, beating Tampa Bay by a score of 45-24. The Falcons are headed to the playoffs, while the Bucs will likely be looking for a new head coach.
The entire AFC playoff bracket is set following the Sunday afternoon games, and two teams clinched their berths at the last moment. The Denver Broncos fell to the Kansas City Chiefs, but still managed to win the AFC West by virtue of the Oakland Raiders' loss. Thanks to a combination of factors, including Denver's loss, the Cincinnati Bengals clinched the second Wild Card spot, even after losing to the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday.
The Baltimore Ravens clinched the No. 2 seed in the AFC, and a first-round bye, on Sunday with a 24-16 win over the Bengals. The Ravens captured the AFC North crown with the win, bumping the Pittsburgh Steelers down into the Wild Card. Pittsburgh will now have to go on the road this coming weekend, despite a 12-4 record.
Here's how the seeds break down. New England and Baltimore will have byes, while the rest of the teams will be in action during Wild Card weekend.
No. 1 New England Patriots
No. 2 Baltimore Ravens
No. 3 Houston Texans
No. 4 Denver Broncos
No. 5 Pittsburgh Steelers
No. 6 Cincinnati Bengals
An injured Ben Roethlisberger was not at his best, but performed well enough to help the Pittsburgh Steelers to a win over the Cleveland Browns.
Tim Tebow and his Broncos lost to the Chiefs in Week 17. But all is not lost for Denver.
With just a few games remaining in Week 17, the NFL playoff picture is coming into focus, and the NFC is all but set. One huge game remains, with the Dallas Cowboys and New York Giants fighting for the NFC East bid, but the rest of the teams are locked in. No matter what happens in the Sunday night game, the seeds are set
Here's what the NFC playoff picture looks like right now:
No. 1 Green Bay Packers
No. 2 San Francisco 49ers.
No. 3 New Orleans Saints
No. 4 Dallas Cowboys OR New York Giants
No. 5 Atlanta Falcons
No. 6 Detroit Lions
Every seed is locked in, solidified by the Falcons win over the Bucs on Sunday afternoon. Had the Falcons lost -- remember, they jumped out to a 35-0 lead in what seemed like minutes -- the Lions would've been the No. 5 seed and Atlanta would've been the No. 6.
The winner of Sunday night's matchup between the Cowboys and Giants will take the No. 4 seed and NFC East championship, earning the right to host a playoff game next week. That team will host the Falcons in the first round next weekend. New Orleans will host Detroit in the other NFC Wildcard matchup. Green Bay and San Francisco both earned byes, with the former earning home-field throughout the playoffs.
The schedule is set to be released later Sunday night, following the Cowboys-Giants matchup. We'll be back with more as it becomes available.
Seattle Seahawks running back Leon Washington scored a touchdown on a 48-yard breakaway run in the third quarter of his team’s Week 17 season finale against the Arizona Cardinals. Washington juked his way through traffic around the line of scrimmage before getting into the open field. With one Cardinals’ defender giving chase, Washington found the corner of the end zone for the touchdown. He even took out an official while diving across the goal line.
Watch the video of Washington’s touchdown run.
Arizona leads 17-10 with about six minutes left to play in the third quarter.
The New York Jets ended their season in a way most would have imagined given the events of the last three weeks, with plenty of drama. Wide receiver Santonio Holmes was benched in the fourth quarter of the Jets’ 17-19 loss to the Miami Dolphins by offensive coordinator Brian Scottenheimer.
More from SI.com: One last meltdown for the Jets.
Reports said that Holmes got into an argument with a teammate prior to being benched that had to be broken up by quarterback Mark Sanchez and others. Schottenheimer benched him after that.
Teammates excoriated Holmes in the press following the game. According to a quote in a piece from Jenny Vrentas in the Newark Star Ledger, one Jets player accused Holmes of quitting.
He quit. It’s happened for the past two to three weeks. It’s happened all season.
Running back LaDainian Tomlinson spoke more openly about the situation, noting that the way Holmes was carried himself during the game was negatively affecting his teammates.
Holmes signed a five-year, $45 million deal during the offseason to stay with the Jets. Head coach Rex Ryan made him a captain for Sunday’s game against the Dolphins.
Holmes said little about the incident following the game, a game in which he had no catches for the first time in his career. Asked about his confidence in embattled offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer, Holmes responded with a vague answer before noting that it was not his decision whether or not the offensive coordinator returns.
The season is over for the Jets, but the drama likely won’t be for some weeks.
The San Diego Chargers may be on their way to throwing a monkey wrench in the AFC playoff race. They lead the Oakland Raiders 24-13 at halftime, and could give the two remaining playoff spots to teams that did not win in Week 17.
Philip Rivers has thrown for 171 yards and a touchdown at the half, and Richard Goodman has contributed a 105-yard kickoff return touchdown for the Chargers, and that's been enough to well outpace the Raiders, whose only touchdown was the first one of the game. Carson Palmer has thrown for 152 yards and a touchdown for Oakland.
But the weirdness comes in with what results holding might mean: Oakland, the Denver Broncos, and the Cincinnati Bengals are all trailing at halftime, and losses by all three would give the Broncos the AFC West title and the Bengals the AFC's No. 6 seed.
That could make the Tennessee Titans very mad: of the five teams — Cincinnati, Tennessee, Denver, Oakland, and the New York Jets — who had a chance to earn the No. 6 seed on Sunday, the Titans would be the only one to have won ... and would still miss the playoffs.
Houston Texans fans might be worried about T.J. Yates' shoulder after he went down with an injury during Sunday's matchup. The Texans were already in the playoffs, but Yates was getting his work in when he was hit hard, injuring his left shoulder in the process. With a playoff game looming this coming weekend -- either Saturday or Sunday -- Yates' health is of the utmost importance, which is somewhat scary in itself.
But never fear! Yates didn't need his non-throwing shoulder anyway.
Texans QB T.J. Yates said of the shoulder he injured in the 1stQ against the Titans: "it's my left shoulder. I don't need it."— Mark Berman (@MarkBermanFox26) January 1, 2012
This clearly means amputation is an option. On the plus side, Texans fans probably don't have to worry about the Jake Delhomme Playoff Experience (tm), which should put some fears to rest. Delhomme did well on Sunday, completing 18-of-28 passes for 211 yards and a touchdown, but ... well, it's Delhomme.
Heading into Week 17, the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Baltimore Ravens each had an 11-4 record. The outcome of Sunday’s game would shape which teams wins the AFC North and wraps up the second seed in the AFC. After two quarters of play, the Ravens lead the Cincinnati Bengals by a score of 17-3, while the Steelers went into the locker room down 3-6 against the Cleveland Browns.
If the Ravens beat the Bengals, they will claim the AFC North title as well as the second spot and a wildcard weekend bye in the playoffs. Pittsburgh needs to win their game and see Baltimore lose in order to claim the division title and second seed in the playoffs. The Ravens beat the Steelers twice this season, giving them an advantage in playoff seeding and the division race.
If the Bengals can beat the Ravens, they will earn the sixth seed in the playoffs. If they lose, they still have a shot, but would need Denver or Oakland to lose their games this week.
If Tim Tebow and the Denver Broncos are going to make the 2011 NFL playoffs with a win in Week 17, they will need to come back and beat the quarterback that they both replaced — in a manner of speaking. Kyle Orton has the Chiefs up 7-0 at halftime in Denver.
Orton hasn't done a ton, throwing for just 128 yards, but he's helped the Chiefs move the ball and avoided mistakes, and Dexter McCluster has done the rest. McCluster has 59 rushing yards and a touchdown, and three catches for 25 yards.
Tebow, on the other hand, has done even less than Orton, and has a costly fumble to his name, too. Tebow's completed just three of eight passes for 29 yards so far, and has run for just 19 yards on the day. Willis McGahee's 13 carries for 87 yards have been the bright spot of Denver's offense.
Hey guys, remember when Michael Turner was called 'The Burner'? Yes, he used to be very fast. Now, he is a large power back with respectable speed for a very large person. Still, respectable speed for a very large person doesn't mean 81-yard breakaway speed, which is exactly what Michael Turner showed on this touchdown run. This put the Atlanta Falcons up 42-0 on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Seriously.
Is this a case of the Bucs' defense quitting? This is not an unfair question to ask. Michael Turner hasn't shown the kind of speed required to break off a run like this since he was in San Diego. The Bucs have been downright awful in the second half of the season, and Raheem Morris will likely be out of a job tomorrow. Meanwhile, the Atlanta Falcons will lock up the fifth seed in the NFC if they win this game (they're going to win this game).
The Green Bay Packers beat the Detroit Lions by a score of 45-41 to close out the regular season. The Lions open the playoffs next week, while the top-seeded Packers get a week to cool their heels.
Michael Vick and the Eagles blew out the Redskins late in their 2011 season finale.
The AFC playoff picture remains in flux as Week 17 winds down, with plenty of late games holding implications, both for seeding and teams in-or-out. As of now, we know the New England Patriots will be the No. 1 seed in the AFC, locking up home-field advantage and a first-round bye. After that, it gets a bit more dicey.
If the Denver Broncos win, they will be the AFC West champions, earning the No. 4 seed in the AFC as a result. If Denver loses, it could still win the AFC West, if Oakland falls to San Diego. The Raiders would take the division and No. 4 seed with a win and a Denver loss to Kansas City.
In the AFC North, if the Baltimore win their game against Cincinnati, they would take the division and No. 2 seed, clinching a first-round bye in the process. Pittsburgh would then take the No. 5 seed as the top AFC wildcard team. If Baltimore loses and Pittsburgh wins, the Steelers take the No. 2 seed and Baltimore takes the No. 5 seed.
If Cincinnati beats Baltimore, it would be in as the No. 6 seed, regardless of what else happens. The Bengals could still get in with a loss, but would need Denver or Oakland to lose (or both). If the Bengals lose and both the Broncos and Raiders win, Tennessee would take the No. 6 seed.
Get it? Got it? Good. We'll be back with more as it unfolds.
Jarred Allen finishes season with 22.0 sacks, just short of Michael Strahan's NFL record, but breaking Chris Doleman's Vikings record as Minnesota falls to Bears.
The first-round byes and Wild Card teams are set in the NFC, while there is still one division up for grabs and there could still be some movement in Wild Card positioning. After the Detroit Lions lost to the Green Bay Packers during the early games, the Lions' fate is now in the hands of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. If the Atlanta Falcons defeat the Bucs', they will move up to the fifth seed and play the NFC East winner in the first round next week. If they fail to win, the Lions will take the fifth seed.
Whoever finishes in the sixth seed will travel to Louisiana next week and take on the New Orleans Saints in the Superdome. The Saints were locked into the third seed on Sunday. Even though they won against the Carolina Panthers, the San Fransisco 49ers held onto the second seed and a first-round bye with their win over the St. Louis Rams.
The San Francisco 49ers beat the St. Louis Rams by a score of 34-27 to finish the season with a 13-3 record. The win also gives them a bye week during the wildcard round of the playoffs.
The Atlanta Falcons could still end up with the No. 5 seed in the NFC playoffs, thanks to the Detroit Lions' loss to the Green Bay Packers in Week 17. Given what Julio Jones has done so far in the Falcons' regular season finale against the lowly Tampa Bay Buccaneers, it's fairly likely that they will.
Atlanta is up 28-0 early in the second quarter against Tampa Bay, and has gotten two ridiculous touchdown catches from Jones en route to that margin. Here's the first:
And here's the second, which is even better:
Jones has three catches for 71 yards and those two scores, and he still might not be Atlanta's clear offensive MVP so far. That's because Michael Turner has 85 yards and a touchdown of his own, and because the Bucs are so bad — they have now allowed 477 points on the season, a franchise record — that it is impossible to distinguish one great player outclassing a woefully undermanned team from another.
Darren Sproles sets all-purpose yardage record, Jimmy Graham temporarily sets tight end receiving yardage record and Drew Brees pads his passing yardage record as the Saints beat up on the Panthers.
The Indianapolis Colts' loss gives them the first pick in the draft. The St. Louis Rams and the Minnesota Vikings finished their season with the second and third picks, respectively.
The Tennessee Titans stayed alive in the 2011 NFL playoffs chase, despite the Houston Texans' best efforts.
Jets eliminated from playoffs after Mark Sanchez throws three interceptions in loss to Dolphins.
The Indianapolis Colts lost 13-19 to the Jacksonville Jaguars. The loss gives the Colts the first pick in the 2012 NFL Draft, and both teams have major rebuilding questions to grapple with in the offseason.
After facing a 21-0 deficit, New England blasted Buffalo 49-21 in Week 17. Thank Tom Brady for that.
Tom Brady has been maybe the third-most impressive quarterback of the 2011 NFL season, behind Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers, but Brady's time in New England's pass-happy offense is likely to be remembered very fondly by Patriots fans, especially ones with no love for the Miami Dolphins. Brady surpassed Dan Marino's old NFL record for passing yards in a single season in Week 17, throwing for 338 yards to finish with 5,235 yards on the season, better than Marino's 5,084 yards from 1984.
Brady only moved into second place on the all-time list with that performance, because Brees, who broke Marino's record in Week 16, put even more yardage on his ticker in Week 17 with an 389-yard performance in a rout of the Carolina Panthers. But Brady has had better years — in a couple of respects; Brady topped Marino's single-season touchdown record, previously smashed by Peyton Manning, with 50 scoring strikes in 2007 — than the best year one of the best quarterbacks ever.
That's certainly worth celebrating for Patriots fans.
The New York Jets needed a win to make the playoffs. Mark Sanchez seems to be doing just about everything possible to make sure they don't. The Jets quarterback has thrown three interceptions including one on each of his team's last two possessions. The second of those was especially painful as the Jets were on the Miami Dolphins' 10-yard line and had a chance to take the lead late in the fourth quarter.
Instead, he was picked off. A long return ultimately set up a Dolphins field goal that gave Miami a 19-10 lead.
No Aaron Rodgers hasn’t limited Jordy Nelson. The Green Bay Packers’ wide receiver has three touchdowns and 156 yards receiving on eight catches against the Detroit Lions. Nelson scored his third touchdown on a beautiful 58-yard pass from Packers backup quarterback Matt Flynn in the third quarter.
Nelson’s highlight from a day filled with highlights for the fourth-year player out of Kansas State:
This is the fifth game of the season in which Nelson has topped the 100-yard mark. It’s the first time that he has scored three touchdown in a game. Those three touchdowns give Nelson a total of 15 for the season, one less than Calvin Johnson of the Lions who scored his 16th of the day in the second quarter. Nelson also has more than 1,200 receiving yards for the season.
Nelson’s touchdown is one of eight touchdowns scored by both teams in a game that looks more like a tennis match with a basketball score.
For more on the Packers, visit Acme Packing Company.
Darren Sproles' contribution to the New Orleans Saints is obvious if you're paying attention. But if you only look at his rushing or receiving numbers, you might miss the bigger picture. On Sunday, he made sure he'll be remembered for at least something as he broke Derrick Mason's all-purpose yardage record that was set in 2000. Sproles picked up the record-breaking yardage on a rush up the middle, giving him 168 yards for the day and 2,695 for the season.
Making the record all the more impressive was how many yards Sproles needed to pick up on the season's final day. Sproles started the day 163 yards short of Mason's 2,690 and was sitting in fourth-place on the all-time list. He passed Lionel James relatively early and then blazed past Michael Lewis in the third quarter.
Just for good measure, Sproles scored a touchdown. He now has 10 all-purpose touchdowns on the season, with his final one coming on Drew Brees' fifth touchdown pass of the day.
The San Francisco 49ers used a fake field goal in the third quarter to build their lead over the hapless St. Louis Rams. Kicker David Akers connected with wide receiver Michael Crabtree for a 14-yard touchdown on the fake kick. That gave the 49ers a 27-10 lead over the Rams.
Check out the video right here.
San Francisco needs a win to secure a first round bye in the playoffs as the second seed in the NFC. A lead would allow the 49ers to pull some of their starters before the end of the game.
That was Crabtree’s second touchdown of the game. He caught a 28-yard pass from Alex Smith for a second quarter touchdown. Crabtree has 92 yards on nine receptions to go with his two touchdowns.
The Rams lost running back Steven Jackson on the series before the 49ers scored on the fake field goal, making the likely outcome a little more likely.
It should surprise no one that Tom Brady has triggered much of that scoring, and surprise just as many that Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski have figured in the explosion. Brady has 236 yards through the air, passing Dan Marino for second on the all-time list for passing yards in a season, and has chucked touchdown passes to Hernandez and Gronkowski. Hernandez has four catches for 81 yards; Gronkowski has five catches for 60 yards.
What's more, some of the Patriots' characteristic chicanery has been on display. Danny Woodhead ran in a two-point conversion to give New England a full touchdown's advantage.
The Bills, meanwhile, have converted just one of six third downs.
Jared Allen needed 4.0 sacks to tie Michael Strahan's record of 22.5 sacks in a season. Strahan, of course, set that record in 2001 when Brett Favre basically laid down on one of the game's final plays. After dragging down Josh McCown to give him 3.5 for the day, Allen is a sack away from having the record all to himself.
St. Louis Rams running back Steven Jackson left in the third quarter of his team’s Week 17 game against the San Francisco 49ers with an injury to his left arm. His return to the game is questionable. The Rams made an official announcement on Twitter after Jackson was taken into the locker room.
Jackson collided with 49ers safety Dashon Goldson. He went to the sidelines grimacing in pain. The Rams kicked a field goal on the drive, but San Francisco answered with a touchdown on the next possession.
Jackson left the game with 76 rushing yards on 16 carries. Cadillac Williams is his primary backup, and the Rams will likely use Jerious Norwood for a few carries in relief.
Last week, Jackson became the seventh running back in NFL with seven consecutive seasons of 1,000 rushing yards. Jackson has been the focal point of the Rams offense and a bright spot in otherwise forgettable season.
Philadelphia and Washington are locked in a game that has no major ramifications beyond the 2012 NFL Draft order, and yet they continue to play this game as if it matters. Isn't the NFL just grand?
Philadelphia, meanwhile, is very much reliant on the pass without LeSean McCoy. Of the Eagles' 16 first downs so far in this one, 13 have come by way of the pass.
Jimmy Graham's spectacular season is officially one for the record books. The New Orleans Saints tight end just scored his 11th touchdown of the season, but the record-breaking play came a little later. Graham's next catch gave him 79 yards for the day and 1,291 for the season. That catch put him one yard beyond Kellen Winslow, who set the record in 1980. Here's a look at his touchdown, which put him within six yards of tying the record:
Graham's touchdown was also Drew Brees' third of the day and he has already thrown his fourth. That gives him 45 touchdown passes for the season, still well short of Tom Brady's record of 50, but who knows with the way this is going?
It's one of the few NFL games of Week 17 that doesn't have any ramifications for the 2011 NFL playoffs, and the Eagles and Redskins are playing down to that standard. Philadelphia leads, 10-0, at the half.
Michael Vick has thrown for 151 yards and a touchdown in the game to give the Eagles their lead, but Philly's running game has been little better than nonexistent, accruing a whopping 12 yards. And Vick's taken two sacks for 20 yards, leaving Philly with fewer yards of total offense than Vick has passing yards.
The New Orleans Saints and Carolina Panthers seem to find themselves in exciting games. So, it stands to reason that they are putting on quite a show on Sunday. The two teams keep exchanging touchdowns with the Saints currently leading 24-17 at halftime.
A pair of plays toward the end of the half have pretty well encapsulated the game. The first was from Jonathan Stewart, who scored from 29 yards out, working his way through a rather hole-filled defense. The Saints defense has already allowed more than 130 yards rushing in the half with Stewart picking up 68 of those on just six carries.
But the Saints came right back on the next position and took back the lead on Drew Brees' 43rd touchdown of the season and his second to Marques Colston this afternoon. Brees basically tossed the ball up from 42 yards and Colston fought off the defender to bring it in. Brees now has 249 yards passing and Colston has 129 yards receiving at the half.
Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder left Sunday's game against the Bears after aggravating his hip. He's officially questionable to return, but given the fact that the Vikings are playing for nothing but draft position, the odds seem good that he's done for the day. He left the game after taking a hit from Bears defensive lineman Israel Idonije.
In his absence, fellow rookie Joe Webb is making a case that he deserves consideration to start next season. Webb has completed 7-of-10 passes for 93 yards. Ponder, meanwhile, completed just 4-of-10 passes for 28 yards and an interception (albeit on a ball that was tipped) before leaving.
The fact that Webb was a sixth-round pick while Ponder was drafted 12th overall certainly gives Ponder the leg up on the starting job, but Webb has looked surprisingly good every time he's had a chance to play. If he ends the season on a high note by leading the Vikings to a win over the Bears, there's no reason he shouldn't be considered.
The Tennessee Titans are spending Week 17 playing against a Houston Texans team without Arian Foster, and have already knocked T.J. Yates out of the game. And yet, they're only barely ahead of the Texans at halftime, and are nursing a 13-10 lead.
Matt Hasselbeck has thrown for 166 yards and a touchdown for the Titans, and Tennessee's defense has gotten a turnover and held the Texans to 151 yards. But the Titans have yet to open up a larger lead than the one they currently have against what amounts to a reduced version of the skeleton crew the Texans were already working with.
The Texans have been anchored by Ben Tate, who has run for 82 yards and a touchdown. Andre Johnson, playing despite a nagging hamstring injury, has two catches for 21 yards, and Jake Delhomme, on in relief of Yates, has 58 yards through the air.
The New England Patriots are still gunning for the AFC's No. 1 seed and the home field advantage that goes with it. After falling into a deep hole early against the Buffalo Bills, Tom Brady and the Patriots are on the comeback trail, and face just a 21-14 deficit in the second quarter.
The Patriots are coming back from the 21-0 hole that the Bills put them in in the first quarter. Ryan Fitzpatrick has 246 yards and two touchdowns at halftime, having thrown scoring strikes to Steve Johnson and C.J. Spiller.
The Detroit Lions put up another touchdown on the board against the Green Bay Packers backups thanks to a second quarter touchdown pass from Matt Stafford to, who else, Calvin Johnson. That was Johnson’s 16th touchdown of the season, which is actually way off his early season track when he was on pace to score a veritable boatload of touchdowns. Stafford hit Johnson on a 13-yard pass for the score.
Here is the video of Johnson’s touchdown.
Green Bay answered with a highlight worthy touchdown of their own on the next drive. Quarterback Matt Flynn hit running back Ryan Grant on a short screen pass. Grant took the ball 80 yards for a touchdown to make it a 17-16 lead for the Packers.
That was Grant’s first receiving touchdown of the season.
Johnson has three receptions for 50 yards and a touchdown in this game. Prior to today’s game, Johnson had 85 catches for 1,437 yards. It’s a career year for Megatron.
It's been that kind of season for the Minnesota Vikings. On Sunday, it continued. After building a 10-0 lead in the first quarter, the Vikings needed just a shade over 30 seconds to turn that into a 14-10 deficit to the Chicago Bears. Just moments after Roy Williams' touchdown put the Bears on the scoreboard, Charles Tillman returned an interception 22 yards to make 14-10 Chicago.
The San Francisco 49ers took full advantage of a failed trick play attempt by the Rams. After intercepting Jerious Norwood’s passing attempt, the 49ers got the ball on the Rams’ 34-yard line. Two plays later, they scored a touchdown when quarterback Alex Smith hit wide receiver Michael Crabtree for a 28-yard touchdown.
Check out the video here.
Crabtree has four catches for 60 yards and a touchdown so far in the game. San Francisco leads 14-7 with just under nine minutes to play in the second quarter.
Leave it to the St. Louis Rams to turn a standard gimmick play into a costly endeavor that helps bury them even further. Lined up in the shotgun, St. Louis snapped the ball directly to running back Jerious Norwood. He was intercepted trying to throw to quarterback Kellen Clemens on the trick play by Tarell Brown.
The 49ers got the ball on the Rams’ 34-yard line and scored a touchdown two plays later.
The Indianapolis Colts and the Jacksonville Jaguars are playing a game with draft implications on the line. Indianapolis is looking for their third consecutive win, something that could help Jim Caldwell hang onto his job as head coach in Indy. Jacksonville got out to an early lead, thanks to a deep ball from rookie quarterback Blaine Gabbert.
Gabbert hit his fellow rookie, wide receiver Chastin West, for a 23-yard touchdown. Check out the video of the touchdown here.
Prior to this game, West had 12 catches for 140 yards and a touchdown. Gabbert has struggled this season. Prior to this game he had 11 touchdowns and 11 interceptions along with just a 64.5 quarterback rating and a 50.5 completion percentage.
An Indianapolis win and a St. Louis loss would bump the Colts back to the second spot in the 2012 NFL Draft. The Rams would move into the first spot.
Drew Brees isn't going to catch Tom Brady for the single-season touchdown passing record, but he seems to be giving it the good ol' college try. Heading into the final game needing nine touchdown passes to equal Brady's record of 50, Brees tossed his first touchdown of the game in the first quarter. It was a beauty too, hitting Marques Colston in the back of the end zone.
The Saints defense continues to be a rather big question, and they have already given up a touchdown in this one, but that offense is practically unstoppable. The touchdown pass to Colston was the Saints 12th play from scrimmage. It was the eighth one that had gone for at least 10 yards. That includes both of their touchdowns.
While Brees won't catch Brady, he is building on his NFL record for passing yards in a season. He already has 91 yards and will almost certainly pass the 5,200-yard mark.
Houston's injury bug just won't stop biting the playoff-bound Texans. After losing both Matt Schaub and Matt Leinart for the season to injury, Houston quarterback T.J. Yates has left the AFC South champions' Week 17 game against the Tennessee Titans with an apparent shoulder injury.
With Yates, who was already listed on Houston's injury report for Week 17, out, the Texans will turn to a familiar face for NFL fans: Jake Delhomme. Delhomme hasn't played since Week 14 of 2010, and has had diminishing returns for years since leaving Carolina, but the Texans are really without a lot of options at the moment: Yates was the team's third-string quarterback before the injuries to Schaub and Leinart, and Jeff Garcia, the current third-stringer in Houston, is inactive for today's game.
The St. Louis Rams got a little offensive help this week from backup quarterback Kellen Clemens. After keeping a drive alive by hitting Brandon Lloyd on a 24-yard deep shot, Clemens scrambled into the end zone for a touchdown on the Rams’ opening drive.
Check out the video of Clemens’ 18-yard scramble for the score.
Clemens isn’t known for his scrambling prowess, but he deserves a little credit for a heads up play to put the Rams on the board.
That was just the second rushing touchdown allowed by the 49ers all season.
St. Louis was shut out last week at Pittsburgh. It was the second time in a month that the Rams failed to score any points. For the season, they were averaging just over 11 points per game heading into today’s game.
At stake today is the top pick in the 2012 NFL Draft. If the Indianapolis Colts beat the Jaguars and the Rams lose, St. Louis will have the top pick.
For more on the Rams, check out Turf Show Times.
Confusion is the best way to describe the two points the Detroit Lions just picked up on a safety against the Green Bay Packers. Filling in for an injured Randall Cobb, Pat Lee caught the ball on a Lions kickoff as it bounced into the end zone. He took a knee, but a grasp of the rules eluded him. The result was a safety.
Check out the video of Lee’s mishandling the kick return here.
What happened was that the ball came out of the end zone before Lee pulled it back in and took a knee. That made it a safety, and added two points to the Lions lead. Detroit is up 9-0 on a Packers team resting Aaron Rodgers.
Randall Cobb usually does the kick return work for Green Bay. Cobb is inactive for the game as he deals with a groin injury.
The New Orleans Saints are, once again, off to a blazing start on Sunday. Facing the Carolina Panthers in their season-finale, and needing a win to have any chance to get a first-round bye, the Saints needed just four plays to take a 7-0 lead. Backup running back Chris Ivory made the drive's big play, rushing the final 35 yards for his first touchdown of the season.
Ivory has not a huge part of the Saints' offense this year, playing in just his sixth game of the season. Since returning to the field in Week 8, though, he has slowly worked himself back into the fold. This will be his fourth straight game with at least 35 yards rushing and he has averaged 49.4 yards rushing in his first five games.
It's unlikely that he's going to be a huge part of the Saints offense in the playoffs, but getting him going is clearly nothing but a good thing.
The Houston Texans have nothing to play for in the final week of the 2011 NFL regular season, and so they will be sitting leading rusher Arian Foster as an inactive player and starting Ben Tate in their Week 17 game against the Tennessee Titans.
Foster has 1,224 yards on the year, third in the NFL, and over just 13 starts. But he has almost no chance of catching NFL rushing leader Maurice Jones-Drew, who is more than 200 yards ahead of him, and the Texans, locked into the No. 3 seed in the AFC playoffs, could use a fully healthy Foster against their first round opponent to be determined. (Tate, who has 845 yards on the ground in 2011, is certainly no slouch.)
Foster sitting is somewhat mitigated by another player who will be playing for Houston: receiver Andre Johnson is not inactive, and will be available.
Eagles speedster LeSean McCoy had a chance to win the 2011 NFL rushing title in Week 17; instead, McCoy is inactive for Philadelphia's last game of the 2011 NFL season against the Washington Redskins. The Eagles are likely trying to protect a player who was one of their most productive options in 2011 after he turned his ankle in a Week 16 win over the Dallas Cowboys.
McCoy sits at 1,309 rushing yards after Week 16, and is in second in the NFL in that category, 128 yards behind Maurice Jones-Drew. McCoy's chances of making up that ground were slim to begin with, but being deactivated obviously decreases them to none.
One of the NFL's best quarterbacks will be planted on the bench in Week 17: Packers signal caller Aaron Rodgers is inactive for Green Bay's regular season finale against the Detroit Lions, leaving Matt Flynn to start.
Rodgers has been sensational for the Packers in 2011, throwing for 4,643 yards and 45 touchdowns. But Green Bay has nothing to play for in Week 17, with the NFC North and the No. 1 seed in the conference sewn up, and so Rodgers is out and Flynn is in for the first time since the Packers' 31-27 loss to the New England Patriots in December 2010. Flynn threw for 251 yards and three touchdowns in that game, and nearly led the Packers to an upset victory on the road.
Rodgers isn't the only Packers star sitting: Charles Woodson, Clay Matthews, Bryan Bulaga, Greg Jennings, James Starks, and Randall Cobb are all inactive for Week 17, as Green Bay rests up for its run at a repeat.
The Green Bay Packers have secured the NFC's top playoff seed, while the Lions hope to lock up a 5-seed with a win. Detroit has not won in Green Bay since 1991.
The Oakland Raiders will be fighting for a playoff spot and they'll need some help, but first they'll have to beat the San Diego Chargers.
The Kansas City Chiefs and quarterback Kyle Orton are looking to spoil the Denver Broncos playoff hopes.
The Arizona Cardinals and Seattles Seahawks will clash for the rights to finishing second in the NFC West.
Matt Ryan and the Atlanta Falcons will be looking to build momentum as they head into the playoffs.
A victory over the Rams this Sunday would give San Francisco a first-round bye in the NFC Playoffs.
The Redskins and Eagles are playing for pride Sunday when they end the season against one another.
The Saints still have playoff seeding to play for in Week 17.
The Patriots can control their playoff destiny with a win over the Bills.
The Bears and Vikings play for pride in Week 17.
The Jets need a defeat of the Dolphins along with outside help for a third consecutive playoff berth.
The Pittsburgh Steelers could potentially earn home field advantage throughout the playoffs with a win Sunday. The 4-11 Cleveland Browns, meanwhile, simply hope to save some face from what has been yet another disappointing season.
The Jacksonville Jaguars and Indianapolis Colts will look to determine where they select in the NFL Draft when they meet on Sunday afternoon.
The Houston Texans and Tennesssee Titans will play this weekend in a rivalry game. The Titans are hoping to clinch a playoff spot, but the odds are against them.
Plenty is at stake with the Baltimore Ravens visiting the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday. The Bengals are playing for a postseason berth, while the Ravens hope to lock up a first round bye.
The NFL moved to a scheduling format where all Week 17 games are played between teams in the same division. That's created a scenario this year where nearly every Week 17 game is meaningful.
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