What We Learned In Week 16 In The NFL:
- The wheels have fallen off the Tebow Train
- The Lions are in the playoffs for the first time since 1999
- The Patriots clinch home field in the playoffs but their defense makes them look very beatable
- The Jets are the second best team in New York
- Steeler fans had a Batch of reasons to celebrate on Christmas Eve
I trust that all of Steeler Nation had a very happy holiday filled with good food, good football, new Steelers gear, and good times. Heck, I’ll even extend happy holidays to those Ratbird fan trollers that occasionally heckle our articles. I hope all of you guys had a Christmas worthy of a Baltimore Gatorade shower. What could be better than a Christmas Eve full of football games? A shut-out win by the Steelers, that’s what! Before we get into that, let’s break down some of the other games that occurred this weekend as playoff chances were clinched and lost all around the league.
Before Saturday, Tim Tebow hadn’t played in weather below 40 degrees in his entire life. That, along with the fact that God was obviously busy preparing for his son’s birthday meant that there was not going to be any divine interventions creating a comeback for the Broncos. They haven’t yet lost their chances at a playoff spot, but with the Raiders edging out the Chiefs, they didn’t do themselves any favors. Tebow threw 4 interceptions with 2 of them pick 6’s. If the Steelers keep the #5 spot in the AFC and the Broncos keep their #4 spot, the Steelers would travel to Denver to take on the Broncos in the first round of the playoffs. As much as I have been entertained by Tebow’s 4th quarter comebacks this season, I sure would love to see James Harrison and LaMarr Woodley run him down.
The city of Detroit partied like it was 1999 on Saturday as the Lions clinched a playoff spot for the first time in 12 years to the expense of the Chargers, who were officially eliminated from playoff contention. I appreciated Rivers’ part in the Ravens losing last week but I sure did enjoy watching him go back to failing miserably and missing the playoffs for a second straight season. For the record, an “elite” quarterback should be able to lead the team to significant victories. Rivers had his worst statistical season of his career this year and will be watching the playoffs in January again. I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that Norv Turner might need to dust off his resume. Kudos to Detroit for finally turning in a successful season. Here’s hoping Suh can hold his temper this time if they should meet the Packers in the playoffs.
Brady and Co. staged a comeback win against the Dolphins, who had a 17-0 lead early in the game. The Patriots defense allowed almost 400 yard of offense by the Dolphins. Brady was sacked 3 times in the first half. While the Patriots are now locked in to either the #1 or #2 seed in the AFC, they definitely don’t look like the most dominant team even this late in the year. With their glaring holes in defense the strategy to beat them remains the same. If you keep Brady off of the field, you can beat the Patriots, even at home.
In spite of all the smack-talk in the world, the Jets fell short in the battle of New York to the Giants, who kept their playoff hopes alive thanks to another loss by the Cowboys. The Jets will need a whole lot of help if they’d like to return back to the AFC Championship for a third consecutive time. The Giants are facing a “win and you’re in” situation next week when they face the Cowboys. Something tells me though, even when the Jets are eliminated from the playoff race, we’d still have to suffer through listening to Rex Ryan ramble on about something or other.
The Steelers played their final regular season home game with Ben on the sidelines and Charlie Batch leading the offense. The Steelers had a chance to work on their ground game, going up against the 2nd worst rushing defense in the league in the St. Louis Rams. After a slow start, Mendy broke free for a 52 yard gain to the 10 yard line and John Clay fresh from the practice squad ran it in for the touchdown. Batch had some “Big Ben” moments himself, eluding defenders and escaping sacks. Special congratulations goes out to Antonio Brown, who broke the Steelers franchise record for all-purpose yards at 2,048 a record previously set by Barry Foster in 1992.
Hines Ward also got within 5 catches of the 1,000 mark; hopefully he’ll be able to get those catches next week against Cleveland. The Steelers defense posted a shut-out of the Rams and Polamalu was fingertips away from at least 2 interceptions. Harrison resumed his assault on quarterbacks adding 4 tackles and a sack to his totals for the year. The Rams didn’t help their case at not scoring any points by missing 2 field goals. Another blanked category in the game was in the sack column. With Doug Legursky going out early in the game with a shoulder injury, Trai Essex stepped up in the center position and Batch was not sacked the entire game.
Next week against the Browns, the Steelers need a win and a Ravens loss to the Bungles in order to secure the AFC North title. Already in the playoffs, the AFC North title would also provide a badly needed first round bye for the Steelers. At one point during the Rams game, the Patriots were losing to the Dolphins and the Browns were starting to score on the Ravens and it seemed as though the universe wanted the Steelers to earn that #1 spot. Unfortunately, the Ravens were able to turn out the win at home as well as the Patriots. No word yet on whether or not Ben will sit for the Browns game, although I would almost guarantee that if that #1 spot was up for grabs going into this weekend there would be no one who could keep Ben off of the field. It’s almost bitter
sweet to look forward to the last week in the NFL season; it always seems to go so quickly. Knowing the Steelers are playing at least one more weekend in January makes it a little easier though. Bring it on Week #17!
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