49ers 24, Seahawks 14For a second straight week, Seattle blew its chance to clinch the NFC West title and an undeserved playoff spot, allowing San Francisco quarterback Alex Smith to score three touchdowns in the fourth quarter. "Yeah, yeah," yawned head coach Mike Homgren. "We're really worried that we might not make the playoffs."
Even if the Seahawks lose their remaining two games, they could still make the postseason with an 8-8 record, further exposing the mediocrity of the NFC this season. "Granted, a .500 team probably shouldn't get the chance to battle for the title of 'world champion,' but who else are you going to put in there?" noted running back Shaun Alexander. "Like if we make the playoffs anyone's going to claim the Giants got robbed?"
Cowboys 38, Falcons 28It's amazing Terrell Owens hadn't thought of it sooner, but the receiver found a way to make himself the hot topic in Dallas, not by scoring two touchdowns in a win that solidified Dallas's playoff position--which he did--but by spitting on Atlanta cornerback De'Angelo Hall. "Now try not to talk about T.O.!" smiled the receiver as he guzzled whole milk and chomped on a block of cheese, contending dairy made him "all-phlegm-y" and more able to "hock loogies."
Prior to the loss, Atlanta head coach Jim Mora mentioned that he'd be interested in the coaching vacancy at his alma mater, the University of Washington. After a public uproar, Mora insisted he was just joking. "Why would I want to go coach at the collegiate level where good quarterbacks are a rarity and most are just glorified rushers who might toss the ball a few times per game?" asked Mora. "I already have Michael Vick."
Bears 34, Buccaneers 31 (F-OT)Chicago clinched home field advantage throughout the playoffs by proving themselves the cream of the NFC crop this season and securing the best record in the conference. The decisive win came in overtime because the best team in the NFC couldn't stop the second-worst team in the conference from scoring three touchdowns in the final quarter. Kicker Robbie Gould had a chance to win the game about a minute into overtime, but missed a field goal which led to this exchange later in the game, which may be the best commentary on the quality of play in the NFC this year.
Dick Stockton: Second down on the Buccaneers 20 yard line. What do you think? Do you kick it here?
Tony Siragusa: I don't think so. Before you rely on Robbie Gould, I'd take a shot or two at the end zone.
Daryl Johnston: But I wouldn't throw it. If you want to run it a few times, okay, but don't have Rex Grossman throw in the end zone at this point in the game.
Translation: the best team in the NFC has unreliable passing and kicking games which should be avoided at all costs when victory is on the line. Yay, Bears!
Ravens 27, Browns 17Cleveland thought it had found a way to stop the Baltimore, stabbing quarterback Steve McNair through the hand. McNair left the game after having his hand stepped on by Andre Davis's cleat, putting Kyle Boller under center. The Ravens clinched a playoff berth despite Boller being in the game.
"Why would you put it that way?" asked Boller. "I threw two touchdowns. How come every time I'm in a game and we lose, it's all my fault and every time I'm in a game that we win, it's 'despite' my play? I'm sick of being blamed for everything that goes wrong in Baltimore!"
Packers 17, Lions 9Brett Favre broke Dan Marino's record for completions late in the second quarter, hitting Carlyle Holiday for the 4,968th of his career. Farve finished the game seven completions ahead of Marino's mark, forcing the CBS halftime show to become an extended Marino ego-stroke as Boomer Esiason pointed out the differences in today's offenses versus those of twenty years ago and claimed Marino would hold every record forever if he played in today's NFL.
The new record and victory allowed Farve to reflect on his storied career during postgame interviews instead of the three interceptions he threw, including two in the red zone. The Packers will face the Vikings this Thursday in a game the NFL Network is promoting as "possibly" Farve's final game ever at Lambeau Field. Packer fans have their fingers crossed.
Chargers 20, Chiefs 9After a while, LaDainian Tomlinson, it just gets to be kind of obnoxious, y'know. Okay, every time you touch the ball you can run the full length of the field and score another touchdown. We get that and were very impressed. Now let Eric Parker have a turn with the ball.
Patriots 40, Texans 7New England bounced back from its worst loss of the season by dominating Houston, which is the football equivalent of beating up one of the special education kids to compensate for everyone laughing at you when you tripped over your own feet walking the halls when you were in high school. It proves nothing and seems a harsh overreaction, but you can't deny it feels good.
"I don't even remember how we scored seven," admitted Houston quarterback David Carr. "One minute Tedy Bruschi was giving me a swirly and the next, while Mike Vrabel was reaching down my pants to give me a wedgie, I noticed we didn't have a zero on the scoreboard any more."
Titans 24, Jaguars 17Fred Taylor left Sunday's game with a strained hamstring, shocking fans around the league who realized it took until week fourteen for Taylor to go down with an injury.
"When he first pulled up lame," explained coach Jack Del Rio, "I started thinking about how much candy I had to buy before the trick-or-treaters came around. Then it occurred to me, 'Wait a minute! This isn't mid-October!' How time flies when you're not playing guys off the end of your bench because your star rusher is cashing multimillion dollar checks to ride an exercise bike at half speed in a rehab clinic."
Bills 21, Dolphins 0Miami's unrealistic hopes of making the playoffs finally came to an end as they were mathematically eliminated. Instead, Buffalo, with four wins in its last five games and back at .500, can drum up destined-to-be-all-for-naught enthusiasm among its fanbase.
"If we can just pull off a win against Tennessee next week, we can keep the postseason hype alive until Baltimore comes in her and spanks us like we were stealing from the cookie jar," speculated quarterback J.P. Losman. "That's thirteen or fourteen days of false hope. You can sell a lot of season ticket renewals in two weeks, especially during the holidays. Don't know what to get your uncle for Christmas? Buffalo football is un-Bills-eveable! Or maybe it's unbelieva-Bills. I can't remember which."
Rams 20, Raiders 0Randy Moss sat out Sunday's game, his first missed start since joining the Raiders. "I don't know, man," Moss lamented, "I saw Terrell Owens spit on that Atlanta guy and I was just all like, 'Shit, why didn't I think of that?' Maybe I'm just getting too old for this. Being a disruptive force capable of bringing a franchise to its knees and drawing the ire of your teammates and the hatred of an entire community is a young man's game. Hell, it's everything I can do to get anyone to even notice that I'm half-running down the field on a play anymore."
Warren Sapp seconded Moss's observation. "Years ago, I would jawjack with Brett Farve after every play and people said I was ruining the game of football. Now, people at the grocery store ask me what I've been doing since I retired from the Buccaneers." Sapp expressed further concern about how he is aging and whether he has "always looked so much like Biz Markie."
Jets 26, Vikings 13Minnesota boasts the best run defense in the NFL, though New York helped to expose why that might be. When your pass defense is as weak as the Vikings', there's no reason to waste valuable plays rushing the ball.
Chad Pennington, who is physically unable to throw a ball from one end of a couch to the other without requiring career threatening shoulder surgery, passed for a career high 339 yards in his team's win with most of the yardage coming on tosses softer than you would throw to your three year old niece.
Steelers 37, Panthers 3Carolina appears to have finally surrendered its hopes of making the playoffs, rolling over and playing dead for Pittsburgh. Of course, starting Chris Weinke probably should have been a tip-off that the Panthers were throwing in the towel. Weinke lost his 17th straight start and was sacked five times while counterpart Ben Roethlisberger led the Steelers to a 17-0 lead that emptied much of Bank of America Stadium by halftime.
"We're playing our best football all year," said Roethlisberger. "We could probably have played this well all season, but we already won our Super Bowl. It would be selfish to go try to get another one before everyone else gets a turn."
"Sharing is caring," agreed head coach Bill Cowher.
Redskins 16, Saints 10New Orleans clinched a playoff berth and for the time being is the second seed in the NFC, though few people leaving the Superdome would describe their play this afternoon as "contender-like."
Drew Brees, who completed five touchdown passes in NFC East-leading Dallas last Sunday, was stymied by NFC East cellar-dweller Washington, which employed a clever strategy of playing like crap. The Redskins never opened a lead larger than ten points, convincing the Saints and their fans that one good series was all it would take to pull out the win, thus excusing the previous ineptly executed three-and-out. Fortunately, Carolina's collapse at home against Pittsburgh handed the Saints the division title. "That worked out nicely," noted receiver Devery Henderson. "I wish the Panthers could lose us all the way to the Super Bowl!"
Broncos 37, Cardinals 20Arizona's winning streak ended after just two victories, but coach Dennis Green was quick to defend his job, pointing out that the Cardinals are doing very well for a team with a rookie quarterback.
"Jay Cutler?" asked Green. "Well, yeah, I suppose they have a rookie quarterback too, but he has Javon Walker to throw--Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin? Yeah, I suppose you have a point there, too." Green then told reporters that all their shoelaces were untied and took advantage of the moment that they all double checked to dart out a side exit.
Eagles 36, Giants 22Having won three of their four games since he was lost for the year, the Eagles might wish Donovan McNabb would suffer a serious injury every season. But then, he already does.
Incidentally, if the playoffs started next weekend, the Giants would shower off the stink of this ass-whooping and slide in as the sixth seed. So, in case you haven't caught the overall theme, here's a review of the NFC's Super Bowl "contenders": a squad with a quarterback who should touch the ball as little in the second half as possible, a team that backed into its division title after scoring just one touchdown at home against the Redskins, the whole Terrell Owens fiasco, the defending NFC champs who are fresh off having their asses handed to them by San Francisco and Arizona, a crew that was struggling before its best player blew out his knee last month, and the Giants, who are 1-5 in their last six games.
Can't we just wait and see who out of the Chargers, Colts, Ravens, Bengals, and Patriots makes it to the AFC title game and call that the Super Bowl?
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Jake Bell is a former NBC sportscaster and head writer for Ye Olde Comick Booke Blogge.