NFL Week 17: What we learned
Panthers 21, Falcons 20
In Atlanta, the Panthers eeked out a last second victory in a back-and-forth contest. Carolina sacked Matt Ryan a team-record nine times, led by Greg Hardy's four. With the win Carolina clinched the division, a first-round bye and the second seed in the playoffs. Atlanta will pick sixth in the upcoming draft.
Bengals 34, Ravens 17
In Cincinnati, the Bengals eliminated the defending champion Ravens while securing the division title. Andy Dalton threw four interceptions but accounted for three touchdowns, including a 53-yard bomb to A.J. Green. The Bengals will host a playoff game at Paul Brown Stadium, where they are 8-0 this season. They will play San Diego in the first round.
Colts 30, Jaguars 10
In Indianapolis, the Colts routed the Jags en route to locking up the fourth seed in the playoffs and a home game against the Chiefs. Andrew Luck became the first player ever to throw for over 8,000 yards combined in his first two seasons. Robert Mathis regained the NFL sack lead. The Jaguars will pick third in the draft.
Jets 20, Dolphins 7
In Miami, the Jets spoiled the Dolphins' "win and you're in" playoff chances. Geno Smith controlled the offense and ran in a touchdown but the defense won the game for New York. Rookie Dee Milliner had two interceptions and Ed Reed added another. After the game, Jets Owner Woody Johnson announced Rex Ryan will return next season but did not announce a contract extension.
Vikings 14, Lions 13
In Minneapolis, the Vikings bid farewell to the Metrodome with a one point win over the Lions. Rookie Cordaralle Patterson was the one bright spot for the two disappointing teams, scoring two touchdowns in exciting fashion. Both teams fired their coaches on Monday after disappointing seasons. The Lions will pick 10th in the 2014 draft, and the Vikings will pick eighth.
Giants 20, Redskins 6
In East Rutherford, the Redskins were dominated yet again in a string of ugly losses. Jerrell Jernigan shone brightly for the Giants, catching a touchdown and rushing for another. With the win the Giants are locked in to the 12th pick in the draft. The Redskins(3-13) would be slotted second in the draft, but have no pick as they traded it to St. Louis for Robert Griffin III.
Steelers 20, Browns 7
In Pittsburgh, the Steelers kept their playoff hopes alive with a victory. Le'Veon Bell posted 90 yards and a touchdown to lead Pittsburgh. The Steelers' playoff hopes were ended by San Diego's afternoon win. The Browns fired coach Rob Chudzinski on Sunday night, and will pick fourth in the draft.
Titans 16, Texans 10
In Nashville, the Texans secured the number one overall pick in the 2014 Draft with their loss to the Titans. The Texans lost 14 straight games to end the season after being the favorites to win the division and contend for the AFC title. Chris Johnson rushed for 127 yards and a touchdown. Tennessee will pick 11th in the upcoming draft.
Packers 33, Bears 28
In Chicago, Aaron Rodgers returned from a seven game absence to stun the Bears and clinch a playoff berth. Rodgers evaded a Julius Peppers rush and floated a 48-yard bomb to a wide-open Randall Cobb to take the lead in the final minute. By virtue of the win Green Bay eliminated the Bears and will host the 49ers in the wild-card round of the playoffs.
Saints 42, Buccaneers 17
In New Orleans, the Saints clinched a playoff berth by dismantling the Buccaneers. Drew Brees threw for four touchdowns and ran in another to lead the Saints to the sixth seed in the NFC. They will visit Philadelphia. Finishing at 4-12, Tampa Bay will select seventh in the draft. They will do so with a new coach, as Greg Schiano was fired on Monday.
Patriots 34, Bills 20
In Foxboro, the Patriots earned a first-round bye and the second seed with a sound victory over Buffalo. The win was due in large part to LeGarrette Blount's 189 yards and two touchdowns. The Bills added to their league-worst 14th straight year of missing the playoffs and will pick ninth in the upcoming draft.
Seahawks 27, Rams 9
In Seattle, the Seahawks bludgeoned the Rams on their way to clinching home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs. Golden Tate caught eight passes for 129 yards and a touchdown to help ensure that Seattle would continue to play where they have only lost one game the past two seasons. The Rams fell to 7-9 and will pick 13th in the draft.
49ers 23, Cardinals 20
In Arizona, the 49ers squeaked out the win and the fifth seed behind Phil Dawson's 40-yard game winner. They will travel to Green Bay to face the Packers in the wild-card round. Though they were already eliminated due to earlier results, Arizona fought back form a 17-point deficit and finished the season at a respectable 10-6. They will pick 20th in the 2014 draft.
Broncos 34, Raiders 14
In Oakland, the Broncos thumped the Raiders on Peyton Manning's historic first half. Manning extended his touchdown record to 55 and surpassed Drew Brees' yards record by a single yard with 5,477 before sitting out the second half. The Broncos clinched home-field advantage with the win. Oakland will pick fifth in the draft, and no decision on whether to retain Dennis Allen has been announced.
Chargers 27, Chiefs 24 (OT)
In San Diego, the Chargers won a wild overtime contest on Nick Novak's 36-yard field goal. The kick was preceded by fake punt on their own 28 where Eric Weddle was stripped of the ball but ruled to have his forward progress stopped prior to fumbling and after picking up the first down. It also followed a missed 41-yard field goal that would've won the game for the Chiefs. Both teams are playoff bound; the Chiefs will face the Colts, and the Chargers will face the Bengals.
Eagles 24, Cowboys 22
In Dallas, the Eagles won the final game of the 2014 regular season on a late interception thrown by a Dallas quarterback, this time one not named Tony Romo, though. The quarterback was Kyle Orton, whose pick gave the Eagles a playoff birth and eliminated the Cowboys. Rookie Brandon Boykin made the pick to seal the game. The Eagles will host the Saints in the wild-card round. Dallas will pick 19th in the 2014 NFL draft.