- Plus, Frank Gore goes for 100 again, the Titans finally get that ninth win, and the Bucs get fired up even with nothing to play for
Reacting and overreacting to everything that happened on Sunday afternoon. Get the full Sunday breakdown from Andy Benoit and Gary Gramling on The MMQB: 10 Things Podcast. Subscribe now and it will be in your feed first thing Monday morning
Things That Made Me Giddy
The Bills Are Going to the Playoffs and I Can’t Believe It: Still. A five-win season would have been an accomplishment with that roster. In light of Sean McDermott and Sean McVay, the lesson here is everyone should hire coaches named Sean whose last names start with M-C.
Frank Gore: He has been so good for so long at the most physically punishing position in professional sports. He had his first 100-yard game on New Year’s Day 2006, against the Houston Texans (when Dom Capers was still a head coach!). He had maybe his final 100-yard game on Sunday, against the Houston Texans. At least once a day, you should feel a little bit of shame over the fact that you’re not Frank Gore.
Andy Dalton Plays for His Life: The Bengals could easily move on from Dalton this offseason—only $2.4 million of dead money if they cut him. But Sunday, he gave them pause, at least to keep around as a bridge guy (at a reasonable price of $16.3 million next fall). It’s past time Cincinnati accepted that Dalton isn’t their franchise QB, but they now have reason to keep him around for one more season at least (’19 and ’20 are essentially team options) as they look for the next guy.
Eli Can Still Play: Pay no attention to his stat line on Sunday (10-28, 132 yards, TD, INT). To complete 10 passes to a receiving corps featuring Rhett Ellison, Hunter Sharp and Travis Rudolph is the stuff of MVP candidates.
Dirk, Jameis, and the Bucs Go for the Jugular: That’s how you play out the string! Eleven plays, 95 yards in a minute and 49 seconds with no timeouts. And instead of leaving the game in your kicker’s . . . foot-hands, go score a touchdown. Winston to Chris Godwin (who looks like a budding star, by the way), 39 yards to win it.
Bengals Ruin Everything: Ice-cold, Marvin Lewis! It looked like this team had packed it in when they got blown out in Minnesota in Week 15, but instead they bounce back and end the seasons of the Lions and Ravens in back-to-back weeks.
Matt Bryant as Kyra Sedgwick as The Closer: A monster 56-yard kick stretched it to a two-possession game with less than seven minutes left in the fourth quarter, and pretty much put the Panthers away. Miss that kick, and give up the field position, and it might be a much different story.
Alvin Kamara: With the touchback pump-fake kickoff return TD, and a TD run a few minutes later, and basically everything he did this season, anyone who doesn’t vote for him for Offensive Rookie of the Year needs to immediately be placed in concussion protocol.
Once-8-4 Titans Are Going to the Playoffs: Just like we all thought. Nothing to see here.
Matthew Stafford Catches a Two-Point Conversion: I declare chicanery!
Chris Moore Is Even Steven: It was Moore’s 87-yard kickoff return and TD catch on the subsequent snap in the final seconds of the first half that kept the Ravens in it. Then it was Moore’s hands-like-feet juggling of a Joe Flacco pass that turned into Darqueze Dennard’s pick-six. So, in the end, it’s like Chris Moore never got out of bed today.
Bette Marston Is Getting (Or, Depending on When You Read This, Got) Married!: Bette is our favorite news editor at The MMQB and a big supporter of the Sunday FreakOut (possibly the biggest fan of the column’s many—or at least multiple—fans). And while I’ve never specifically discussed it with her new husband Brian, I’m assuming he has no specific ill will toward the column. And I’ll take that.
Mystique of Ravens D Nowhere to be Found: With the season on the line, they couldn't stop Andy Dalton and a Bengals team with nothing to play for from going 90 yards on 11 plays in two minutes. (Though team president Dick Cass will likely put the blame on that time players knelt before a game in London).
Eagles Fans Should be Physically Ill Over Nick Foles: I was relentlessly heckled two weeks ago for pointing out Foles ran hot and cold against the Giants and was fine but not nearly as good as the box score suggested. After his last two performances, the Eagles are praying Foles can even approach “fine” when the postseason begins. He was bad in the Christmas night win over Oakland. He was worse in a brief appearance against the Cowboys on Sunday, not only out-of-rhythm but seemingly overwhelmed. It would have been nice to see him stay out there and get some more reps, but this might have been a mercy benching. And it raises the question: Will the NFC’s No. 1 seed be getting points in their first playoff game?
LeSean McCoy Carted Off: He has carried the Bills offense all season, and really for the bulk of his three seasons in Buffalo. It’s brutal to see him carted off (with an ankle injury) for that reason. But also, McCoy is 30 in July—and it’s an old 30, he’s one of five active players with more than 2,000 career touches (2,673, including postseason). The Bills have outs on his deal each of the next two seasons. How much time is left for Shady?
Jameis Winston Forcing Throws: My goodness. The pick he threw in the end zone during the third quarter was a high crime against quarterbacking.
All of the Early Games: Were gross.
Jaguars Catch Themselves With Too Many Men on the Field: I’m not sure I’ve ever seen that before. They came out to punt on a fourth-and-9 at midfield and Blake Bortles and a linemen were not off the field yet when they snapped it.
Marquise Goodwin Goes Down: We were scared when he first went down and the cart came out, then relieved when he gestured to the crowd he was O.K., then angry at our God because his breakout season ended 38 yards shy of 1,000. A great season for a good dude, though.
Landry Jones Owns Cleveland: If you’re a Browns fan and you watched every one of your team’s games—and only your team’s games—over the past two seasons, you have witnessed twice as many Landry Jones victories as you did Cleveland Browns victories. (Also, that’s no way to live your life.) Jones is now 3-2 as a starter, all three wins over Cleveland.
The Miami Dolphins: They need one of those Men In Black mind eraser things to wipe their brains of everything that happened since August.
Chargers Kicking Game: Nick Rose missed from 50 and misses a PAT. Why even try field goals anymore? Everything is four-down football next year for the Chargers.
Did Dan Bailey Forget How to Kick?: I ask that seriously. Is this the yips? Bailey missed a PAT and a 23-yard field goal attempt on Sunday, finishing the season with four consecutive misses, three of them from inside 40 yards. (And everything else was going so well for Dallas.)
Browns Finish Fifth in the AFC North: Behind the Steelers, Ravens, Bengals, and Steelers scout team.
Blair Walsh: Wide right from 48 to end it (though Seattle’s fate had already been sealed by the Falcons win). Sadly, it might be over for Walsh.
Ravens’ Hands: An absurd number of drops for a team in a must-win situation.
Spagnuolo Icing the Kicker at End of First Half: C’mon guy, everyone wanted to get out of there, especially the fans. (And it didn’t even work.)
Moments We’ll Tell Our Grandkids About
How Andy Dalton Clinched Buffalo’s 2021 Mayoral Election
Tyler Boyd may be from Clairton, but he's about to become a Buffalo folk hero pic.twitter.com/CUVZ5sdcpr— Craig Meyer (@CraigMeyerPG) January 1, 2018
Corey Coleman’s Hands Clinch 0-16 in Style: Another “losing begets more losing” moment for the Browns. It’s an organization that’s rotten to the core.
Derrick Henry With a Head of Steam: Yeah, he takes a while to get going. But when he does, 250 pounds aren’t supposed to move that quickly without a vehicle being promoted by Dennis Leary . . .
Derrick Henry with a 66-yard touchdown pic.twitter.com/5pHQyqpj4o— Dov Kleiman (@NFL_DovKleiman) December 31, 2017
Johnson Bademosi Flops: Luckily for him, this upset no one because the Patriots are universally beloved.
Alex Collins With the Run of the Year When the Ravens Desperately Needed It: This is on a fourth-and-3 with his team down two touchdowns in a must-win game. And look at Joe Flacco kinda thinking about blocking!
Alex Collins TD run vs the Bengals pic.twitter.com/RHX2CEGNos— TheRenderNFL (@TheRenderNFL) January 1, 2018
Kyle Williams, Touchdown Runner: Would be my favorite Matt Christopher book. It’s silly because he’s a big defensive player scoring a TD and all, but it’s poignant considering what he is as a leader on this team and what he’s meant to this organization as one of football’s most underappreciated stars over the last decade. (And check out the celebration afterward!):
This Titans Fumble Should Open a Point-Shaving Investigation: Though apparently Derrick Henry went the wrong way, so I guess no need to waste taxpayer money afterall.
What We’ll Be Talking About This Week
Bruce Arians and Larry Fitzgerald: If it’s over, it was a hell of a run. And it was nice to see them win a game on a special teams gaffe for once.
Playoffs, Black Monday and Awards: Which we’ll be covering ad nauseam on The MMQB all week. So, y’know, read about it later this week.
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