ICYMI in NFL Week 16: Win comes at cost for Oak; Browns win
In one city, a win felt a lot like a loss. In another, the losers finally figured out how to win.
The Oakland Raiders stayed in the hunt for home-field advantage through the playoffs, but their 33-25 victory over the Colts came at a cost. Their quarterback, Derek Carr, was carted off the field with a broken right leg and is out for the rest of the season.
At the other end of the standings, the Cleveland Browns avoided going down in infamy; they beat the Chargers 20-17 for their first victory of the season and will not join the 2008 Detroit Lions as the second team to finish 0-16.
''I don't want that next to any of our names associated with this organization and so we got that monkey off our back,'' coach Hue Jackson said.
Carr wasn't the only key quarterback to go down during Week 16 of the NFL season. And the Browns weren't the only bad team to pull out an unexpected win.
In case you missed it, here's what else happened on the NFL's second-to-last weekend:
Joining Carr on the sideline for the rest of the season will be Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota, who, like Carr, was carted off the field Saturday with a broken right leg. Unlike the Raiders, though, the Titans lost their game. The 38-17 loss to the Jaguars, combined with Houston's 12-10, AFC South-clinching victory over Cincinnati, knocked Tennessee out of the playoff picture.
DOING THEIR OWN THING
The Vikings defense threw their game plan out for the first half and paid the price.
Packers receiver Jordy Nelson caught seven passes for 145 yards and two touchdowns over the first two quarters while being covered mostly by Terence Newman. That went against the Vikings game plan, which called for Xavier Rhodes to cover the Packers receiver. After halftime, Rhodes handled Nelson and held him to nine yards.
''That's what he was supposed to do the whole game,'' Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said after Minnesota's 38-25 loss. ''Someone decided they wouldn't do that.''
MIAMI RUN MACHINE
The Dolphins inched closer to a playoff spot with the help of running back Jay Ajayi, who ran for 75 of his 206 yards during Miami's game-winning drive in overtime. The Dolphins beat the Bills 34-31.
Ajayi became the fourth player in NFL history with three 200-yard rushing games in a season. The company he joins: Earl Campbel, O.J. Simpson and Tiki Barber.
''Oh, man, he's a grinder. He's a workhorse,'' tight end Dion Sims said. ''He goes 100 miles an hour, and that's why he's got the nickname `Train,' because he's just going nonstop.''
If the Broncos lose to Kansas City on Sunday night, the Dolphins have their first playoff spot since 2008.
A WIN-WIN SITUATION
The only bad thing about winning for Cleveland was that the victory loosened its grasp on next year's first pick in the draft.
Leave it to the equally awful San Francisco 49ers to fix that problem.
The one-win Niners, who would've received the first pick had they and the Browns finished tied with a single victory, got their second win when Chip Kelly opted for a 2-point conversion after a late touchdown against the Rams. Colin Kaepernick ran in the 2-pointer for a 22-21 victory over the Rams and helped the Niners snap a 13-game losing streak and improve to 2-13.
The Browns can wrap up the top pick with a loss at Pittsburgh next week. The 49ers play Seattle.
The Giants made the playoffs thanks to Tampa Bay's loss, and the Falcons won the NFC South. New England can wrap up home-field advantage throughout the playoffs with a win next week against Miami. Pittsburgh can win the AFC North with a victory over the Ravens on Sunday.