Dabs dabs (20-13). Yesterday the Carolina Panthers said farewell to their undefeated season, with an unexpected loss to the Atlanta Falcons. While the Falcons were already out of playoff contention, they wanted payback for their embarrassing 38-0 loss to the Panthers earlier this season. At the end of that earlier game, Panthers QB Cam Newton became an egotistical maniac and was dabbing (a pretty trendy victory dance move) and running up and down the sidelines to celebrate the win. After yesterday’s victory, Cam had much less to say and walked straight back to the locker room, only briefly offering congratulations to Falcons QB Matt Ryan. If he had stuck around he would have seen the entire Falcons team, including the Falcons owner Arthur Blank dabbing right back. Isn’t revenge sweet?
The Cheeseheads stand alone (38-8). Yesterday afternoon the Arizona Cardinals trounced the Green Bay Packers with a victory. Both the Packers and Cardinals have guaranteed playoff spots, but both teams had something to prove from this matchup—the Cardinals have been accused of having a really easy schedule this season, while the Packers have looked pretty shaky and had problems motivating players. With yesterday’s impressive performance, the Cardinals silenced their critics and the 50% Cheesehead audience (a term for Packers fans) by sacking Packers QB Aaron Rodgers 8 times, bringing back 2 interceptions for touchdowns (called a “pick 6”), and collecting their 9th straight win.
If I can’t win, neither can you (20-17). The Baltimore Ravens defeated their division rival Pittsburgh Steelers in an upset yesterday afternoon. The Ravens have had a depressing season that has been plagued by injuries, including to 6 of their starters. This season the Ravens have started 4 different quarterbacks Joe Flacco (starting QB who was injured), Jimmy Clausen, Matt Schaub, and Ryan Mallet. This week Mallet took the field. Where have you heard of Mallet before? He was most recently on the Houston Texans, where he was cut by the team for being an all around mess, including showing up late to practice and missing a team flight to Miami. He just signed with the Ravens 12 days ago, and it looks like it’s paying off. The Steelers are now in questionable playoff contention, and will only have a chance to make it in if they win next week’s game.
Spotlight on why Bill Belicheck has to answer a lot of questions
The New York Jets beat the New England Patriots (26-20) in overtime yesterday. The Patriots were already guaranteed a playoff spot, but they were looking to clinch home field advantage during the playoffs with another win. Instead, the Jets are still alive for a playoffs spot.
What is all this overtime fuss about? At the beginning of overtime, the Patriots won the coin toss, and decided to begin by kicking the ball. This is super unusual, because the NFL overtime rules say that the first team to score a touchdown wins. Teams almost always choose to receive the ball first, so that they will have the first crack at getting a touchdown or at the very least, a field goal.
If a team chooses to kick the ball first, they risk that the game will end without ever getting possession of the ball. This is exactly what happened during last night’s game. The Jets scored a touchdown to end the game, before the Patriots had an opportunity to answer.
This is only the third time since 2012 that a team has selected to begin by kicking the ball in overtime. In the other circumstances, it was the right decision because of terrible windy weather, but last night conditions were perfect. Now, everyone is asking why Patriots Coach Belichick made this bizarro decision.
The Replacements. The Denver Broncos went from being an obvious playoff contender to seeing their position in question. Their fate now rests in replacement QB Brock Osweiller’s hands. He has played the past five games since Peyton Manning had to exit the game with a foot injury. Osweiller will face off against the Cincinnati Bengals QB A.J. McCarron, who replaced Andy Dalton two weeks ago. So far the Bengals have been hesitant to use McCarron, calling mostly running plays. May the best replacement win!