New York ownership will have to put off firing head coach Tom Coughlin for at least another week now that the G-Men are in the playoffs. Coughlin's career in the Meadowlands was extended a week by virtue of the fact the Giants closed the season against a team so poorly managed it signed Adam Archuletta to the biggest contract for any safety in history only to bench him for half the season without any explanation.
Giants running back Tiki Barber, who announced he would retire at the end of the year, ran for a career high 234 yards and three touchdowns. "Arguably, this is the best game of my life," smiled Barber, "and it would be great to go out on top and make this game the cherry on top of a great career. Unfortunately, it looks like my final game will more likely be a frustrating 43-yard, two fumble performance highlighted by video of my rolling my eyes at my coach on the sidelines as he has a complete breakdown and scrambles to pull his ass out of the fire while we're getting trounced by 20-plus in the third quarter."
Chiefs 35, Jaguars 30
Sports books across the country were overwhelmed by the influx of bets on the "underdog" Chiefs in next weekend's match up against the Colts. Running back Larry Johnson rushed for three touchdowns to beat Jacksonville and keep Kansas City in the playoff hunt. Now, he'll go on the road to face the worst rushing defense in recent memory.
"I'm torn," admitted Johnson. "Should I go for 400 yards or would that be rude? If we were playing against a Pop Warner team or something, I'd go easy, but by all accounts the Colts defense is made up of professional athletes."
49ers 26, Broncos 23 (F-OT)
Mike Shanahan said he wanted the Chiefs to win to force Denver to play its best football and earn a playoff spot rather than backing into the postseason. At least he got half of his wish.
"In truth," Shanahan reflected after Joe Nedney's field goal with just under two minutes left in overtime ended the Broncos' season, "this may be for the best. We're a team with a rookie quarterback who got some valuable experience, but now sees not everything is going to just fall in his lap. It's an important lesson we can all take with us. This isn't life and death. We all just need to go out and enjoy life to the fullest, look forward to tomorrow, and think about how great it'll be to get back on the field next year."
"Couldn't have said it better myself," agreed cornerback Darrent Williams.
Lions 39, Cowboys 31
The Lions are such losers they had a contest to see who was the biggest loser and the Detroit lost! In all seriousness, the one time Detroit's complete ineptitude could help the team, the Lions stepped up and outplayed playoff bound Dallas. The win handed Oakland the first overall pick in next year's draft, leaving Detroit to choose second.
"We knew we could have the first pick in the draft, but the number two pick is nothing to sneeze at," acknowledged general manager Matt Millen. "After all, this core of this team was built around high draft picks like Charles Rogers, Joey Harrington, Mike Williams--holy crap, who wants to trade up?!?!"
Jets 23, Raiders 3
Nobody left the field unhappy Sunday. Victory for the Jets meant a playoff berth; defeat for the Raiders meant the first overall pick in the 2007 draft. "This is an exciting opportunity for our club," grinned Oakland head coach Art Shell.
"The chance to bring in a high priced rookie with all the ego that comes with being the number one pick and put him on a team comprised almost entirely of overpriced, aging veterans who have lost a step--or in many cases, several steps--is like watching a train hit its brakes because there is a school bus on the tracks. It's a disaster that will be loud and unavoidable and many, many people will be hurt, but you still can't help but be curious how what it will look like."
Panthers 31, Saints 21
Carolina, picked by most experts to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl, knocked off New Orleans, picked by most experts to "suck major ass." Instead, the Panthers will watch from home while the Saints enjoy a bye week--well, technically the Panthers won't really watch that part from home, but you get the point--and play at least one postseason game at home.
"I guess we put them in their place," chuckled receiver Steve Smith as he celebrated his team's victory over the end of the New Orleans bench. "They may be favorites to win the NFC and have a storybook-like season and be the adopted team of everyone in the country, but--ahem--scoreboard!"
Following the game, the Panthers also received a bit of good news about middle linebacker Dan Morgan, who was cleared to play after missing all but one game with a concussion. "Great," grimaced head coach John Fox, "that does me a shitload of good now, doesn't it?"
Eagles 24, Falcons 17
Given the Cowboys' loss, Philadelphia knew before Sunday's game even started that it had clinched the NFC East. "The win was immaterial to the playoffs," pointed out linebacker Jeremiah Trotter, "but we also had the opportunity to ruin a man's career, so you know we couldn't pass that up."
Following the loss, Atlanta management and head coach Jim Mora scrambled to be the first to terminate his job. "You can't fire me," Mora shouted as he dove for the press conference podium, hip checking team owner Arthur Blank into a stack of folding chairs, "because I quit!" Mora then put his hand up and pointed to the podium to confirm he, in fact, had "dibs" on using the microphone first.
Packers 26, Bears 7
Rex Grossman and the Bears locked up the best record in the NFC, but home field might not be as important as they think. Grossman finished the game with just two completions and three interceptions, raising questions of why he was even playing when the game had no bearing on the Bears' season.
"I wanted to rest my starter--" began head coach Lovie Smith before backtracking, "--er, I mean Rex is our starter and will continue to be. I wanted him out there to keep his arm fresh. When we win the Super Bowl, it will be because of Rex Gros--well, that might be overdoing it a little... how about 'When we win the Super Bowl people will certainly remember what Rex Grossman has done for this team'? Yeah, that'll work."
The win gave Packer quarterback Brett Favre his 147th career victory, tying him with Dan Marino and leaving him just one win behind John Elway for the NFL career record, raising speculation that he might return for the 2007 season. "Seeing the way Brett was playing out there," nodded teammate Donald Driver, "he didn't look like a guy ready to hang up his jersey. He just needs two more W's to be the winningest quarterback of all-time and with another 16 game season, he just might get them... maybe even three."
Sure, there were other games too. But if you really care whether Houston beat Cleveland (yes, 14-6) or the Vikings beat the Rams (they didn't, 41-21) or if you believe it matters whether Pittsburgh or Cincinnati won in the match up of AFC disappointments (Steelers 23-17 in OT) or if you had any doubt the playoff bound Chargers, Seahawks, Ravens, and Patriots would beat the non-postseason-headed Cardinals, Buccaneers, Bills, and Titans (they did 27-20, 23-7, 19-7, and 40-23, respectively), that's your problem.
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Jake Bell is a former NBC sportscaster and head writer for Ye Olde Comick Booke Blogge.