Things we learned in Week 17
Philadelphia, PA (SportsNetwork.com) - What a wild way to finish off the 2013 regular season. The results had fans and fantasy owners on the edge of their seat for almost seven hours. And it's still not done as we await the Eagles- Cowboys battle for the right to represent the NFC East.
Below are a few more things we observed on Sunday afternoon.
Carolina at Atlanta
The Panthers are 12-4 for the first time since 2008. That's good enough to earn a first-round bye.
It's probably too little too late, but you have to admit, Roddy White came on strong at the end of the season. He averaged 100.4 receiving yards per game in the month of December.
Tony Gonzalez's last game in the NFL wasn't a particularly memorable one. He finished with just 56 yards on four catches. His final reception came on a nine-yard check-down with five seconds left in regulation. When the time comes, Gonzalez should be a first-ballot Hall-of-Famer.
Atlanta had a real chance of winning this game ... until Joe Hawley's errant snap led to a 16-yard loss in the final minute. Atlanta's four wins this year were their fewest since 2007. That was the season before they drafted Matt Ryan with the No. 3 overall pick.
The game ball goes to Carolina's entire defensive line. They were outstanding today. The nine sacks they had on Sunday were a season-high. Greg "Kraken" Hardy had four of them to finish the year with 15.
Baltimore at Cincinnati
There will be no Super Bowl repeat. The Ravens are D-O-N-E. It's the second straight year the defending champion has failed to make the postseason (Giants missed it in 2012).
Joe Flacco's knee wasn't at 100 percent and it showed. The 49.8 QB rating he registered was his lowest since Week 4 when he threw five interceptions against Buffalo.
Justin Tucker continues to be Baltimore's best player. He went 3-of-3 on Sunday to finish the year with 38 field goals on 41 attempts. Tucker was selected to his first Pro Bowl earlier this week.
Torrey Smith will finish the year with 1,128 receiving yards. That's the most by a Raven since 1996 when Michael Jackson (no, not the one you're thinking of) went for 1,201 yards in Baltimore's inaugural season.
This is the first time the Ravens have missed the postseason since Joe Flacco arrived in 2008.
It was a roller coaster afternoon for Andy Dalton. He set two team records including most touchdown passes in a season (his 33 puts him one ahead of Carson Palmer) and most passing yards (4,296), but he was also intercepted a career-high four times. Seven of the 20 interceptions Dalton has thrown this year have come against Baltimore.
The touchdown that broke the record for Dalton came on a great catch by second-year wideout Marvin Jones. The grab was Jones' 10th touchdown reception of the season. Ironically, his first touchdown came against Baltimore in Week 17 last season.
I'm still trying to figure out how A.J. Green got so open on that stroll in the park touchdown he scored in the first quarter. The 1,426 receiving yards he hauled in this season were the most by a Bengal since Chad Johnson in 2007 (1,440).
Speaking of Green, the 260 catches he has in his first three seasons are an NFL record. The previous mark was held by Anquan Boldin, now of the San Francisco 49ers. Boldin had 259 receptions in his first three seasons.
Mike Nugent's field goal in the fourth quarter snapped a streak of 14 touchdowns in a row for Cincinnati inside the red zone. The Ravens had allowed 11 straight red zone touchdowns before Cincinnati settled for three.
Jacksonville at Indianapolis
8,196 - that's how many yards Andrew Luck has thrown for in his first two seasons. That breaks Cam Newton's year-old record of 7,920.
T.Y. Hilton saved his best for last. The second-year wideout secured 11 catches for 155 yards in Sunday's win. Both of those totals were career-highs. He'll finish the season with 82 receptions for 1,083 yards.
Adam Vinatieri boosted his Hall of Fame resume by capturing yet another milestone on Sunday. Today, he became the seventh member of the 2,000-point club. He's now tied with George Blanda for sixth on the NFL's all-time scoring list with 2,002 points in 174 career regular season games. Vinatieri turned 41 yesterday.
Look at Chad Henne throwing for more than 300 yards. The 331 yards he racked up Sunday were his most since Week 16 of the 2012 campaign. Henne has now thrown a touchdown in each of his last five games, his longest streak of that kind since 2010.
Maurice Jones-Drew's final game in a Jacksonville uniform (or at least we think) was a bit of a mixed bag. The 90 all purpose yards were nice. Fantasy owners probably could have done without the fumble though.
New York Jets at Miami
8-8 ... with that roster? All things considered, Rex Ryan did a heck of a job this year. If I were a betting man, I'd say he survives Black Monday.
Brian Hartline exited in the first half with what looked to be a serious knee injury. Luckily, he was able to reach 1,000 yards receiving before his departure. The underrated Hartline has now caught 1,000 yards worth of passes in each of his last two seasons.
Mike Wallace has had his moments this season. His five-yard receiving touchdown in the second quarter was his fifth of the year. He'll close out the season with 73 catches for 930 yards. He'll never be worth the $65 million the Dolphins paid for him, but he can still be productive.
Let's talk about Sheldon Richardson for a minute. The 294-pound defensive lineman was able to cram in his second rushing touchdown of the season on Sunday. We haven't seen a D-lineman score two touchdowns in a season in almost 30 years. The last to do it was Refrigerator Perry back in 1985.
Say what you want about Geno Smith. The man has more rushing touchdowns than any quarterback in the NFL this season. Sunday's seven-yard score was his sixth of the year.
Detroit at Minnesota
In the first half, the Lions were held scoreless and their longest play from scrimmage went for just eight yards. Obviously, Detroit didn't want to be there after their playoff hopes died last weekend, But they got their head in the game for the final 30 minutes.
Teammates Reggie Bush and Joique Bell are the first pair of running backs to rush and receiving 500 yards in the same season.
Matthew Stafford was great, but he threw for 217 yards giving him 4,500 in his third consecutive season, the second longest such streak behind Drew Brees (Manning has thrown for 4,500 yards or more in four straight years, but missed the entire 2011 season).
Cordarrelle Patterson is turning into a star right before our eyes. He's a wide receiver with three rushing touchdowns and two kick returns for scores. Just wait until his receiving game fully develops. He's a must keep in dynasty leagues.
Matt Asiata has given fantasy owners double-digit points in his only two career starts.
Washington at New York Giants
The Giants were averaging 18.3 ppg heading into the contest, Washington 21.9, but neither team showed much spark.
Pierre Garcon caught six balls which means he caught at least five in every game this season. That's only been done three times - two this season.
Jerrel Jernigan was Eli Manning's favorite receiver. He set career best marks before the first half ended (6-90-1). He also rushed for 49 yards and a score after half-time. Don't expect Hakeem Nicks to be on the Giants roster next season. They figure to go with Victor Cruz, Reuben Randle and Jernigan.
Cleveland at Pittsburgh
Edwin Baker was the most productive Browns player in the first half. Given the explosiveness of Josh Gordon and Jordan Cameron its not good when Baker leads the team in yards from scrimmage.
Gordon came on in the second half, but finished without getting into the end zone. He'll lead the league in receiving yards 1,646. Add in nine touchdowns and the fact he missed the first two games of the season due to a suspension and you have a fantasy stud.
The Steelers defense and the elements kept Cleveland off the board until the fourth quarter when the game had already been decided.
Le'Veon Bell has improved as the season has gone on and now appears to be a top-10 fantasy back when you add in his excellent receiving ability (860 rushing yards, 45 receptions for 399). His 5- yard touchdown run included a spin move that would make playstation owners proud.
With nine receptions for 87 yards, Steelers receiver Antonio Brown became the first player to catch at least five balls for 50 yards or more in all 16 games this season.
Houston at Tennessee
Is anyone other than those with relatives in this game, watching this one? Ok, maybe Andre Johnson or Chris Johnson's fantasy owners, but that's it.
Jonathan Grimes totaled 126 yards from scrimmage and a touchdown. If the Texans don't want to pay both Arian Foster and Ben Tate they could get rid of one and use Grimes as the backup.
Chris Johnson rushed for 127 yards and a score and caught three balls for 14 yards to lead the Titans to their seventh victory.
San Francisco at Arizona
The return of Michael Crabtree hasn't really hurt Anquan Boldin's statistics. He's scored in each of the past two games. Boldin's 145-yard, one-touchdown effort was his first triple-digit game since the season-opener.
Crabtree, Boldin and Vernon Davis make up a pretty efficient trio of receivers for quarterback Colin Kaepernick.
Frank Gore was held in check by the Cardinals defense, rushing 13 times for 14 yards.
The Cardinals two passing touchdowns didn't help fantasy owners of Larry Fitzgerald or Michael Floyd as Carson Palmer hit Jake Ballard and Andre Roberts.
Green Bay at Chicago
Aaron Rodgers played, but after two months on the sidelines, ended his first drive by throwing an interception. A bit of rust was to be expected.
Rodgers threw two first half interceptions, but his team led 13-7 courtesy of a fluke touchdown on a Rodgers fumble. In the end the Packers won because of Rodgers' great passing ability (25-of-39 for 318 yards and two touchdowns).
Randall Cobb's first catch since Week 6, went for a touchdown. His second catch was a 48-yard touchdown catch to win the game. Welcome back Randall.
Jordy Nelson seemed to be the most happy by the return of the star quarterback, catching 10 balls for 161 yards. It was his most productive day since Week 8.
The Bears did little to excite the home fans in the first half, but Matt Forte played like a star is supposed to in crunch time. He scored three times and totaled 157 yards from scrimmage.
A non-challenge by Bears coach Marc Trestman cost Alshon Jeffery's fantasy owners a touchdown and handed it to Forte on the next play. It could have been a big swing in your fantasy league.
Buffalo at New England
LeGarrette Blount went ballistic on Sunday. His 189 yards from scrimmage were a career-high. He also had 145 yards on returns because ... why not?
Also falling into the "why not" category: Tom Brady's 32-yard punt in the third quarter. Isn't Belichick a rascal?
One more note on that punt: Ian Eagle misspoke when he said it was Brady's first punt in 10 years. Brady actually had a punt that traveled 48 yards in the 2011 playoffs. So there.
New England fumbled the ball four times on Sunday. Talk about butter fingers. Luckily for the Pats they recovered all four of them.
Stephen Gostkowski was a perfect 4-of-4 on field goal attempts on Sunday. That gives him 38 made field goals for the season, which happens to be a new franchise record. He also set a new team mark for points with 157.
For Shane Vereen, this really is the most wonderful time of the year. The Patriots hybrid back scored a touchdown in every game this month except one.
Fred Jackson really is an ageless wonder isn't he? The soon-to-be 33-year- old rushed for 896 yards and nine touchdowns this season. The nine TDs are a career-high.
The Bills have played the Patriots at Gillette Stadium 12 times since it opened in 2002. They have yet to win a game. Sunday's loss drops them to 0-12 all-time there. Better luck next year.
Tampa Bay at New Orleans
Tiquan Underwood has come on strong after Mike Williams went down to a season- ending injury and could have some fantasy value next season.
In a must-win situation, Drew Brees turned to his trusted right arm. Long-time favorite receiver Lance Moore got the team off to a good start with a 44-yard touchdown reception. Brees then hit Jimmy Graham, Robert Meachem and Kenny Stills for touchdowns - all in the first half. At half-time he already had 321 passing yards. The icing on the cake was a fourth quarter nine-yard run for a fifth score and 381 passing yards.
Denver at Oakland
Goodbye Terrelle Pryor. You showed nothing all game long and for that matter most of the season, and are destined for Arena League football.
The Broncos and Manning showed they were ready to go right from the start. They made sure the Raiders didn't get any confidence-building help with a workman-like 12-play drive for a score.
Denver followed with a second scoring drive, this time ending in a touchdown pass to Knowshon Moreno. Moreno could be the biggest surprise of the fantasy season, starting the year buried well down the depth chart and finishing with 1,039 yards rushing, 548 receiving and a total of 13 touchdowns.
The Broncos and Manning put the game on ice with a 66-yard scoring strike from Manning-to-Demaryius Thomas (TD pass No. 54). Number 55 came on another record-setting pass as he hit Thomas (6-113-2) for a second score which also set the single-season passing mark. All this happen in the first half.
Is there any questions as to who is the 2013 fantasy MVP?
For those who wanted Manning to pile it on in the second half ... sorry. He took a seat to watch Brock Osweiler. Hopefully, you got enough points in the first 30 minutes from him to get the job done.
Kansas City at San Diego
You have to admire the effort from Kansas City minus their top half dozen players.
The Chiefs gave Steelers fans a charge of energy with a couple of Knile Davis touchdown runs (27-81-2). The kid has talent. Too bad he'll be stuck behind one of the league's best in Jamaal Charles.
Philip Rivers has always liked throwing to his tight ends. He hit both Antonio Gates and Ladarius Green for touchdown passes in the first half.
Another good effort from Ryan Mathews (24-144-0). He's become a solid fantasy option over the second half of the season.
St. Louis at Seattle
The Rams had zero offense in this one. Zac Stacy had been a fantasy star of late, but couldn't get anything going in Week 17.
Seattle's defense got them on the board first with a "pick-six" from Malcolm Smith. The Seahawks defense has been a top-five fantasy option all season.
I don't understood why the Seahawks don't give the ball to Marshawn Lynch in the red zone as much as some other big backs, but he finally did get into the end zone after a first down gimmick play didn't work late in the third quarter. C'mon man.
12/29 20:06:15 ET