(We’ll have more on the teams that did not make the playoffs in a feature we’ll be calling “Degrees of Fail.” For now, the quick recaps.)
Eagles 44, Cowboys 6 – Tony Romo is now officially the A-Rod of the NFL, in a comical sequence in which he and his Cowboy teammates turned the ball over on five consecutive possessions, two of which were returned for touchdowns. This was a sequence not even Andy Reid could do his best to mangle with poor play calling or bad clock management, as he rocked Michael Moore stubble and made some great play calls, particularly the play-action from Donovan McNabb to TE Brent Celek with 16 seconds left in the first half for a score, and now Philly has snagged the NFC’s 6 seed.
Texans 31, Bears 24 – This became possible for Philly because the Bears, minus Mike Brown at safety (AGAIN) could not defend or even contain the Matt Schaub-to-Andre Johnson combo (10 catches, 148 yards, two TDs.)
Raiders 31, Buccaneers 24 – The Bucs also complied by giving up two TD passes to JaMarcus Russell and a 150+ yard day to Michael Bush in their fourth consecutive loss to drop out of the playoff tour, and Al Davis a measure of satisfaction on both the coach who ditched him (Jon Gruden) and the father of the coach he fired (Monte Kiffin).
Patriots 13, Bills 0 – On a very windy day in Ralph Wilson Stadium that had kicks going every which way, a rushing TD by LaMont Jordan and two Stephen Gostowski FGs were enough to vault NE to 11-5, a remarkable record given the injury to Tom Brady in the first game of the season (and rumor says he may not be ready for 2009. Can you say “franchise tag”, Matt Cassel? I knew you could.)
Ravens 27, Jaguars 7 – Baltimore closed one hole for the Pats to sneak into the playoffs by defenestrating Jacksonville in a humiliating fashion, including two TDs by Le’Ron McLain.
Dolphins 24, Jets 17 – And Miami shut down the other, as Chad Pennington had his revenge on the Meadowlands by throwing for two TDs for the AFC East title (and a home game against the Ravens next week.) Begin the Brett Favre retirement speculation! (How fitting if his final pass is an interception, one of his three on the day — but he was having fun out there.)
Chargers 52, Broncos 21 – The Pats must sit on the sideline while an 8-8 team represents the AFC West. Denver’s collapse would have been more notable than the Cowboys if anyone had regarded Denver as anything more than one-dimensional. As it is, it’s merely depressing to watch a three game lead go down the drain to LaDainian Tomlinson, his three TDs, and a ridiculously accurate Philip Rivers, who now host the Colts next week in the matchup of the hottest teams in football. I’m glad I only listened to most of it on the radio.
Packers 31, Lions 21 – Treasure this season in football, both college and pro, for we witnessed a sight we may never see again: a major D-IA program (Washington) and an NFL team both went without the taste of victory for an entire season. If you think this is easy to do when parity is affecting both sports, think again: being this horrid takes real work.
Vikings 20, Giants 19 – Minnesota holds on to the NFC North and a Wild Card match against Philly thanks to a one-point win over a Giants team that didn’t need it and was resting several starters.
Colts 23, Titans 0 – Symbolic ninth straight win for Indy in game where both teams basically had their starters out there for only one drive each.
Falcons 31, Rams 27 – Atlanta completes magical regular season post-Vick thanks to two TDs by Jerious Norwood, one by Michael Turner (208 yards rushing for him), and they needed every one of them, since Steven Jackson decided to be himself again with two scores and 160 yards and Matt Ryan wanted to give the game away with INTs.
Cardinals 34, Seahawks 21 – In the desert, the KWQB-3000 model performs beyond specifications again, throwing 4 TDs and gaining a third receiver with over 1,000 yards on the season, as Steve Breaston joins Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin in that category for the team. Thanks to shitty division, they will host Atlanta next week.
49ers 27, Redskins 24 – A last second field goal by Joe Nedney ices a 5-4 record by Mike Singletary as interim coach, and the interim tag is rightfully removed after the win over the Children of the Zorn. Shaun Hill throws for one TD and runs for another.
Panthers 33, Saints 31 – Drew Brees throws four TD passes and clears 5,000 passing yards on the season, but it is not enough as DeAngelo Williams runs for 170 yards, Steve Smith catches 134 yards worth of balls, and John Kasay kicks a 42-yarder to win it.
Bengals 16, Chiefs 6 – Cedric Benson has quietly rebuilt a career in Cincinnati, rushing for 111 yards and a TD against the Chiefs, who have absolutely no way to build on this, as Herm Edwards would likely put it.
Steelers 31, Browns 0 – Big Ben gets concussed, and Cleveland’s defense shows just how bad it is by allowing Byron Leftwich (who threw quite well in Roethlisberger’s absence) to scramble for an eight-yard score. The best chance the Browns had was when Joshua Cribbs was under center.