Sunday Snide Remarks – Week 17 Early Games
Oakland Raiders 31, Tampa Bay Buccaneers 24
- They’re not the Dallas Cowboys, but the Tampa Bay Buccaneers officially have a finishing problem. Going 0-4 in the final quarter of this season kept the Bucs out of the playoffs. Last year, they were bounced out of the Wild Card round after locking up the division too soon, resting their guys and finishing the year 1-3.
- Can someone explain to me why Jeff Garcia isn’t likely to be back with this club in ’09? Is it because his 91.7 passer rating is too high? Is it because he makes too many plays late in games? Might it have something to do with his leadership and ability to play through pain? Oh wait, I know…it must be because the Bucs have all kinds of better options awaiting them under center, right?
- My heart was in my throat watching Cadillac Williams leave the field with what appeared to be a very serious knee injury. It wasn’t the same knee that Williams hurt before, but it is believed that he suffered an identical injury (torn patellar tendon). Judging by Williams’s frustration, it seemed like an unfortunately familiar experience for him.
- The Bucs defense was never the same after Monte Kiffin decided to join his son in Knoxville.
- We (I) have made fun of Tom Cable all year, but I’ll say this: Oakland improved under his guidance, and these Raider players compete hard for him. I’m still not sure Cable’s worthy of a fulltime head coaching job, but he’s certainly worthy of a serious interview.
Carolina Panthers 33, New Orleans Saints 31
- Huge win for the Panthers. The Atlanta Falcons had fought off the St. Louis Rams just seconds before John Kasay kicked the game-winning field goal as time expired, meaning Carolina’s victory is what gave them the bye week that we all thought they’d for sure have.
- Forget what I said at midseason. Steve Smith is the best receiver in the NFL. Period. The deep catch he made on the final drive to set up Kasay’s field gold was remarkable. Smith is arguably the league’s most lethal weapon running after the catch, and yet, his greatest strength, at 5’9”, might be snagging the jump ball.
- The only thing more surprising that DeAngelo Williams’s 1,515-yard season on the ground is the fact that it didn’t come a year ago. Williams was an elite runner last season but, as the Panthers will tell you, he didn’t get enough touches. All is well now; just know that this guy is a legitimate star.
- I’m glad Drew Brees didn’t break Dan Marino’s single season passing record. I love Brees, but that record would have never been remembered with high esteem had it come in such a ho-hum season like New Orleans’s.
Houston Texans 31, Chicago Bears 24
- This game turned out to be moot after Minnesota’s win over the Giants, but the Bears cleared things up well before that by falling behind 31-17. If you can’t beat a mediocre Texans team when your season is on the line and theirs is already done, you’re not a playoff team.
- When the Bears get beat by good receivers, their entire defense always seems to crumble. And too often this year, Charles Tillman has been involved in this equation. Sunday, Andre Johnson torched Chicago’s secondary for 148 yards and two touchdowns.
- The Bears will be a trendy pick next season. People will look at Kyle Orton’s solid numbers, exaggerate about the progress that Devin Hester and Greg Olsen have made as receiving options, anoint Matt Forte as a fantasy stud and, if they’re really into the game, wax poetically about what a healthy Chris Williams at LT can do for the offensive line. All this, factored in with “a healthier Bears defense” will make Chicago the prognosticator’s dramatic sleeper.
Atlanta Falcons 31, St. Louis Rams 27
- Perhaps they were celebrating because they thought that New Orleans had beaten Carolina and given them a bye, but nevertheless, you have to love the Falcons’ emotion after this win. This is a club that truly appreciates, yet doesn’t take for granted, all that they’ve accomplished this season.
- Rams players drafted a petition to keep Jim Haslett as the head coach. A serious question (serious in that I really don’t know the answer to it): when you’re 2-14, does the players’ support help or hurt your cause?
- Steven Jackson has been quiet all season (the 2-14 record has unplugged his hype) but Sunday he became the first Ram since Eric Dickerson to record three straight 1,000-yard rushing seasons. And Jackson did it with just 12 games of work and no respectable passing attack to distract opposing defenses.
New England Patriots 13, Buffalo Bills 0
- Usually when a team falls short of the postseason you can go back through their schedule and cite a few blown opportunities. But can we really tell these 11-5 Tom Brady-less Patriots that they must sleep in the bed they make? They won 11 games!
- In all fairness, the only teams New England beat that had a winning record were the Cardinals, Dolphins (who also beat them once) and Jets (another team that beat them once).
- The Pats have one of the most intriguing quarterback situations in NFL history on their plate this offseason. Some reports have said that Tom Brady is behind in his recovery from knee surgery. Matt Cassel just proved himself capable of starting in this league, but he’s due to be a free agent. It’s almost out of the question to franchise him because doing so would cost over $14 million (about four times too much to pay for a backup). However, New England could franchise Cassel if they are certain that they can trade him. That’s what I’m guessing they’ll do.
Green Bay Packers 31, Detroit Lions 21
- The Lions don’t deserve what’s coming to them. They’re a horrendous team, but not in a legendary sense.
- It was a little surprising to see the vitriol in the verbal attacks made by Packer fans against Detroit. Perhaps it’s unreasonable to think that a crowd wouldn’t chant “0-16!” towards the end of such an historic game, but what reason do Packer fans have to hate the Lions? Detroit hasn’t won a game in Green Bay since 1992.
- On a similar note, Aaron Rodgers and the offense broke their pregame huddle not by saying “1-2-3…Packers!” or “1-2-3…Win!” but by saying “1-2-3…0-16!” How often do you hear teams breaking the huddle with a phrase that pertains strictly to their opponent?
Minnesota Vikings 20, New York Giants 19
- The Vikings won this game because it meant something to them and nothing to New York. Watching the first three quarters, you’d never know it meant anything to Minnesota. They were flatter than Nebraskan terrain most of the afternoon, and they were clearly out-schemed.
- Adrian Peterson had a big day on paper, but 67 of his 103 rushing yards came on one breakaway run. Peterson was bottled up for 36 yards on his 20 other carries because the Giants, having no respect for the Viking passing attack, overloaded the box.
- Bernard Berrian is not as good as his numbers suggest. He’s a deep threat, but in a No. 1 receiver, you need a guy who is a threat to catch eight balls in any given game, and 12 if left facing one-on-one coverage. Berrian’s lack of physicality prevents him from being one of those guys.
- David Carr was 8/11 for 110 yards and a touchdown in extended mop-up duty. As big a bust as Carr was in Houston, he’s become one of the most admirable backup quarterbacks in recent memory. He’s not looking for a starting job because he knows that, given his track record, he deserves to be in a spot where he must first prove himself in a No. 2 role.
Indianapolis Colts 23, Tennessee Titans 0
- All this game did was put Indy at 12-4, which pours more fuel on my fire for when I rant about the NFL’s unjust playoff structure later this week. The Colts will travel to San Diego for the Wild Card round. I don’t care who’s winning what division, a 12-win team should not have to go on the road to face an eight-win team.
Pittsburgh Steelers 31, Cleveland Browns 0
- I’m not questioning Ben Roethlisberger’s character or toughness, but it’d be shocking if he isn’t starting under center when Pittsburgh opens postseason play in two weeks. When it comes to injuries, Roethlisberger seems to have a flair for the dramatic (think Paul Pierce in Game 1 of the NBA Finals).
- It doesn’t make sense for the Browns to fire Phil Savage. Like with Shack Harris in Jacksonville, the reason Cleveland’s season has been so disappointing is because expectations were sky high. And why were expectations sky high? Because Savage had done a great job putting this roster together.
- If anyone needs to be fired, it’s Romeo Crennel. Instead, it sounds like the Browns may simply demote him. Crennel is undoubtedly a high-character individual, and he proved in New England that he’s one helluva defensive coordinator. But if you fire the GM, you’re basically saying you need to clean house. Simply demoting the head coach would only be a form of tidying up the house.
Cincinnati Bengals 16, Kansas City Chiefs 6
- I heard both teams showed up to the stadium on time.