LOS ANGELES, December 30, 2013 — The NFL 2013 regular season is done. The AFC and NFC playoffs are set. Black Monday coach firings began early on Sunday night. Football does not need hyperbole. One of the greatest regular season finales in NFL history makes football the great game it is.
Here is the NFL 2013 Week 17 Wrapup.
Carolina Panthers at Atlanta Falcons—The Falcons took a 10-0 lead in first ballot Hall of Famer Tony Gonzalez’s final game. Matt Ryan then went ice cold as an eight-yard interception return by Melvin White for one touchdown and a Cam Newton four-yard touchdown to Tedd Ginn Jr. with 19 seconds left in the half put the Panthers up 14-10.
In the third quarter, Ryan went deep to Roddy White for a 39-yard touchdown as the Falcons and Cam Newton came back with a seven-yard touchdown to Greg Olsen to put the Panthers back up 21-17. Midway through the fourth quarter, Matt Bryant hit from 37 to get the Falcons within 21-20. Atlanta got it back but the Carolina defense sacked Ryan on consecutive plays. Carolina had nine sacks on the day. Atlanta’s last chance with 30 seconds left had them with 1st and 10 from their own 43 needing only a field goal to win it. A bad snap out of the shotgun meant a 16-yard loss as the clock ran out. Ron Rivera saw Carolina lock up the NFC South and the first round bye. 21-20 Panthers
Baltimore Ravens at Cincinnati Bengals—Andy Dalton threw four interceptions and Joe Flacco was picked off three times. Tied 17-17, defensive pass interference in the end zone early in the fourth quarter led to Dalton running it in from one yard out as the Bengals took the lead. Flacco’s second interception set up a Mike Nugent field goal and a 27-17 Bengals lead with 12 1/2 minutes left in regulation. With four minutes left Flacco’s final interception by Kirkpatrick was returned 21 yards for the clincher. The loss dropped the defending Super Bowl champion Ravens to 8-8 and out of the playoffs for the first time in six years under Flacco and John Harbaugh. The Bengals at 11-5 under Marvin Lewis will be home for their first playoff game. 34-17 Bengals
Jacksonville Jaguars at Indianapolis Colts—Donald Brown and Trent Richardson had short touchdown runs as the Colts jumped to a 17-0 first quarter lead and coasted. In the third quarter Andrew Luck threw a seven-yard touchdown pass to Whalen for a 27-3 Colts lead. The 11-5 Colts under Chuck Pagano will be playing their opening playoff game at home. 30-10 Colts
New York Jets at Miami Dolphins—With three seconds left in the half, Geno Smith took a draw play from the five yard line and banged his way in to put the Jets up 14-7. With 4 1/2 minutes left in regulation Nick Folk hit from 35 to make it 17-7 Jets. Ryan Tannehill was quickly intercepted as the Jets got the stunning road win after being humiliated by Miami at home. Both teams finished 8-8 and out of the playoffs. After the game, Jets owner Woody Johnson announced that Rex Ryan would be back in 2014. Joe Philbin could still be an unlikely Black Monday casualty. 20-7 Jets
Detroit Lions at Minnesota Vikings—Both Leslie Frazier and Jim Schwartz could be Black Monday casualties. The battle of who wanted it least saw the Lions leading 13-7 in the fourth quarter. Sherels then returned a punt 50 yards to the Detroit eight, setting up Matt Cassel to Cordarelle Patterson for the score as the Vikings led 14-13 with 9 1/2 minutes to play. Patterson had a 50-yard touchdown run earlier in the game. On fourth and 12 from the Minnesota 41 with five minutes left, Jim Schwartz decided to punt and trust his defense. The right call still backfired as Minnesota ran out the clock in the final game ever at the Metrodome. 14-13 Vikings
Washington Redskins at New York Giants—Mike Shanahan and Tom Coughlin both had a chance of being Black Monday casualties. Jorelle Jernigan caught a 24-yard touchdown pass from Eli Manning ran for a 50-yard touchdown to make it 17-6 Giants after three quarters. The Giants started 0-6 but finished 7-9, while the 3-13 Redskins have the second pick in the draft but have to send it to St. Louis as part of the RGIII trade. 20-6 Giants
Cleveland Browns at Pittsburgh Steelers—Ben Roethlisberger threw a nine-yard touchdown pass to Jerricho Cotchery and LeVeon Bell ran it in from five yards out. A pair of Shawn Suisham field goals made it 20-0 Steelers. Mike Tomlin held the Steelers together after an 0-4 start but an 8-8 finish left Pittsburgh just short of playoff contention. 20-7 Steelers
Houston Texans at Tennessee Titans— Wade Phillips and Mike Munchak could both be Black Monday casualties. In the third quarter after a Matt Schaub pass ricocheted and was intercepted, Chris Johnson ran for an 11-yard touchdown to put the Titans up 13-7. After a Houston fumbled snap in the fourth quarter, Rob Bironas hit his third field goal to put the Titans up 16-7. Houston got it back at their own nine with one minute left down 16-10 and Schaub was quickly intercepted. The Texans clinched their 14th straight loss and have the first pick in the 2014 NFL Draft. 16-10 Titans
San Francisco 49ers at Arizona Cardinals—The 49ers came in with a wildcard clinched, but an outside shot at winning the NFC West and a first round bye. Earlier in the day the top seed and home field throughout slipped out of reach. Arizona needed a win and help to make the playoffs at all. Colin Kaepernick threw a four-yard touchdown to Anquon Boldin and a 63-yard completion to Boldin to set up a three-yard touchdown pass to Vernon Davis to make it 17-0 49ers early. Palmer led the Cardinals back with a one-yard touchdown pass to Ballard on fourth and goal and a 34-yard touchdown pass to Andre Roberts tied the game 17-17 with 3 1/2 minutes left. Things were only starting to get crazy.
With 1:50 to play Jim Harbaugh decided to have Dawson try a 56-yard field goal despite his earlier misses from closer. Dawson leveled it and the 49ers led 20-17. The Cardinals came back again and Jay Feely, despite two earlier misses himself, hit from 43 with 30 seconds left to tie the game 20-20. The 49ers took over at their own 36. Kaepernick fired to Boldin for 18 and to Quenton Patton for 29. Dawson came in with two seconds left for the 40-yarder to win it. Dawson was good and the 11-5 49ers are the five seed wildcard. The Cardinals would have missed the playoffs even if they had won, and their 10-6 season was something to build on. 23-20 49ers
Green Bay Packers at Chicago Bears—Aaron Rodgers finally returned from his broken collarbone as snow came down in this do-or-die NFC North showdown. Rodgers was intercepted twice early in the red zone. Confusion reigned in the second quarter. Rodgers got hit by Julius Peppers and fumbled. Players stood around despite no whistle. Eventually Jarred Boykin picked it up and ran 12 yards for a touchdown and a 10-7 Green Bay lead that stood after review.
A crazier second half saw several lead changes. With Green Bay up 20-14, Cutler went bombs away to Alshon Jeffrey for a 67-yard gain to the one. Matt Forte crashed in to put Chicago on top. Cutler threw a 10-yard touchdown to Brandon Marshall to make it 28-20 Bears. With 12 minutes left in regulation Eddie Lacy ran it in from six yards out as the Packers trailed 28-27.
At the two minute warning the Packers faced fourth and one at their 44. Rodgers hit Jordy Nelson for five yards. With 46 seconds left the Packers faced fourth and eight from the Chicago 48. Rodgers avoided a sack and fired a bomb to Cobb for the touchdown in front of a shellshocked home crowd. The two point conversion failed but the Packers had the lead. Devon Hester returned the kickoff to the Chicago 40 with 31 seconds left and two timeouts. From the Green Bay 45, Cutler’s final Hail Mary was intercepted in the end zone by Will Shields. The Bears at 8-8 are out and the Packers at 8-7-1 are NFC North Champions. This instant classic will be relived by both teams forever. 33-28 Packers
Buffalo Bills at New England Patriots—Bill Bellichick and Tom Brady had already clinched the AFC East for the 11th time in 13 years. A 36-yard touchdown run by LeGarrette Blount and three Stephen Gostkowski field goals made it 16-3 Patriots at halftime as hard rain came down. Every time the Bills closed, the Patriots responded. Gostkowski’s fourth field goal made it 27-17 Patriots midway through the fourth quarter. Buffalo got within seven with three minutes left, but the onside kick failed and they were out of timeouts. Blount broke free again for a 35-yard touchdown run to lock up the win as the Patriots clinched the first round bye and the two seed but not home field throughout. 34-20 Patriots
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at New Orleans Saints—New Orleans began the game knowing the division was out of their grasp and that a loss could knock them out of the playoffs entirely. Drew Brees went lights out and threw four touchdown passes in the first half. He went bombs away with scores of 48 yards to Lance Moore, 10 yards to Jimmy Graham, 41 yards to Robert Meachem, and 76 yards to Kenny Stills as the Saints led 28-14 at intermission. Brees would scramble for a touchdown in the third quarter as the Saints clinched a wildcard and Greg Schiano awaited Black Monday. 42-17 Saints
Denver Broncos at Oakland Raiders—Denver had already clinched the first round bye. Peyton Manning entered the game with 51 touchdown passes and had a shot at reaching 60 against the hapless Raiders. Manning threw four touchdown passes in the first half and completed 25 of 28 passes. He hit Eric Decker for a three-yarder, Knowshon Moreno for a seven-yarder, and Denarius Thomas for a 63-yard bomb and a 5-yard touchdown as Denver led 31-0 at halftime. His 55th touchdown pass on the season also meant 5,477 yards passing, a new NFL single season record. The 2013 Broncos also set the NFL record with 606 points scored. For some reason the second half was played as Denver cruised to the top seed and home field throughout. John Fox had Manning sit the second half. Despite consecutive 4-12 seasons, Black Monday was not expected to involve the Silver and Black firing Dennis Allen. 34-14 Broncos
Kansas City Chiefs at San Diego Chargers—With the Chiefs locked into the wildcard, Walrus Lite Andy Reid played backups. Losses by other teams allowed the Chargers to clinch a playoff spot with a win. Davis ran it in from two yards out as the Chiefs backups led the Chargers starters 24-14 in the fourth quarter. The Chargers rallied as Philip Rivers threw a six-yard touchdown pass to Eddie Royal and Nick Novak hit a 22-yard field goal with 3:20 to play. Ryan Succop came in with eight seconds left for a 41-yard field goal try to win it and eliminate San Diego. The kick was no good. The Chargers had life.
The Chargers got the ball first and had to punt on fourth and two from their 28. Mike McCoy showed cojones of steel. He called a fake punt and total chaos ensued. Eric Weddle took the direct snap and appeared to just reach the marker when the ball was ripped out of his hands and returned for a touchdown. The Chiefs celebrated, thinking they had won. The referees ruled forward progress had been stopped and San Diego retained possession. After a 9 1/2 minutes drive, Novak hit the 36-yard field goal to give the Chargers the lead.
Chase Daniel moved the Chiefs from their 26 to the Chargers’ 36. A run lost five yards and forced the Chiefs to go for it on fourth and 15 rather than try a 59-yard field goal. Daniel threw incomplete and the 9-7 Chargers were in the playoffs as the six seed. The 11-5 Chiefs have lost five of their last seven, but are playoff bound. 27-24 Chargers, OT
St. Louis Rams at Seattle Seahawks—The Legion of Boom got things off with a bang as a 37-yard interception return by Smith and two Steven Hauschka field goals made it 13-0 Seahawks at halftime. In the third quarter tempers flared as Pete Carroll and Jeff Fisher did not exactly rein their players in. The Rams had one defender ejected. Marshawn Lynch banged his way in and Russell Wilson threw a 47-yard touchdown to Golden Tate for emphasis. The Seahawks clinched the top seed in the NFC and home field throughout the playoffs. 27-9 Seahawks
Philadelphia Eagles at Dallas Cowboys was the Sunday night game. For the third straight year the Cowboys faced a do-or-die division showdown for the right to win the division and make the playoffs. This year the Cowboys had to break their hex without injured Tony Romo. Dallas started Kyle Orton, a very capable backup. Nick Foles threw touchdown passes to Escobar and Captain Morgan Brent Celek as the Eagles led 17-7. Three Dan Bailey field goals got Dallas within 17-16 after three quarters.
Brown ran it in from six yards out to give the Eagles a 24-16 lead with six minutes left. On fourth and nine at the Eagles 32 with four minutes left, Jason Garrett went for it. Orton found Dez Bryant, who shook a tackle and raced to the end zone. The two point conversion failed. Dallas held on defense and got it back with 1:49 left and one timeout, needing only a field goal. Orton was intercepted. Three straight playoff eliminations with two different quarterback had Jerry Jones a sad man at Happy Valley. Chip Kelly’s rookie season includes a division championship. 24-22 Eagles
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