The last weekend of the regular season saw a lot of disappointment, disappointment turned into jubilation, the last show for some Head Coaches, and yet ... more records. Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees (NFL single season yards passing record) have attained "Elvis" status and get their own Penthouse floor (just like Elvis in Las Vegas), so they don't qualify for a suite. Here are my Penthouse Sweets and my Outhouse Stinkers for Week #17. Any other nominees?
(Suite 1A) Matt Flynn - I have a sentimental spot for back up QB's but ... WoW!!! Flynn completed
31-44 (70%) passes for 480 yds (franchise record) and threw 6 TD passes (franchise record). Oh by the way, he led his team to a come from behind 45-41 win over a playoff team (Lions) who wanted to win this game. Flynn did something that Bart Starr, Bret Favre, and Aaron Rodgers hadn't done in the storied history of this franchise. Becoming a free agent at the end of the season couldn't have come at a better time for this young man.
(Suite 2A) New York Giants Team - With an NFC East title showdown at stake, the Tom Coughlin led Giants dominated the Dallas Cowboys. Eli was superb, Cruz was salsa-sational, and the defense played inspired championship football. This team had their backs to the wall 2 weeks ago, Tom Coughlin went all in and his team followed. Momentum is on their side, can 2007 repeat itself?
(Suite 3A) Matt Stafford/Calvin Johnson Combo - This is becoming the most dangerous combination in the NFL. Stafford threw for 520 yds and 5 TD's while Megatron caught 11 passes for 244 yds with a TD. The defense blew their chance at the #5 seed and now Stafford and Johnson have to go to New Orleans on a short week. Hopefully for them, a defense gets on the plane with them.
(Suite 4A) Ray Rice - Against a good defense (Cinti) with a lot on the line for both teams, Rice went off. He ran 24 times for 191 yds and scored 2 TD's. On the 4th play of the game , Rice set the tone for the Ravens by bolting to a 70 yd TD run, and later in the game, he went for a 51 yd TD jaunt.
(Suite 5A) MJD - On a bad football team, Maurice Jones Drew led the league in rushing. Sunday he ran 25 times for 169 yds in leading his team to a win. MJD is the new head coaches best offensive asset. If the new HC can build a legitimate passing game to go with MJD next year, this team could contend for a playoff spot quickly.
(Special Weekend Suite) Jared Allen - Allen recorded 3 1/2 sacks this past game. That gives him a franchise record and league leading 22 sacks. In a dismal year for the team, Allen stood tall.
(One Night Stay Suite) Cinti Bengals/Denver Broncos - Playing at home, and a playoff birth in the bag with a win, these two teams lost. But, both teams made the playoffs with other contenders losing as well. One game doesn't tell the story of an entire season. After 16 weeks of work playoff spots are determined, and these two teams qualified this season. Congrats to both teams ... you earned it ... you don't have to apologize to anyone. But, as I say that, if you don't play better ... you will have a one day stay in the playoffs.
9. NFL Rule Book - All scoring plays must be reviewed, this rule needs to be expanded to all potential scoring plays in the end zone. Detroit was hurt by the existing rule because an official made the wrong call on a TD catch. The Lions were without a challenge, but a coach shouldn't be penalized for an incorrect scoring call by an official.
8. Stevie Johnson - Needs to go by Steve ... it sounds more mature ... which Stevie is not. Got another 15 yd celebration penalty for his team after scoring a TD. He knew that it was wrong, and yet, he did it anyway. A selfish act!!! Coach Gailey benched him for the rest of the game which hurt the offense and the team.
Stevie needs to grow up soon!
7. Santonio Holmes - Pouting, arguing in the huddle with teammates, quitting on your teammates, and finally getting benched ... gets you a spot in the outhouse. When your teammates are saying that you quit ... that's bad!!
6. Packers Defense - I know that the game was meaningless to the Packers record and playoff position, but if this team wants to repeat ... they can't play like this.
5. Buffalo Bills Collapse - The Bills stormed out to a 21-0 lead ... then the Patriots outscored them 49-0. Fitzpatrick went 13/16 for 156 yds and 2 TD's in the first quarter, after that, he threw for 151 yds while throwing 4 picks (one a pick 6). This game was a microcosm of their season.
4. Detroit Lions Defense - With the #5 seed at stake, the defense watched their offense crank out 575 yds while putting 41 points on the scoreboard. Unfortunately for the Lions, the defense stood around watching the GB Packers offense (led by back up QB Matt Flynn) go for 550 yds and 45 points. They watched Matt Flynn throw for 480 yds and 6 TD passes (setting 2 franchise records). This unit was awful ... and now they get Drew Brees and the Saints offense on a short week. A quick fix would be a good New Years resolution!
3. Mark Sanchez - Threw 3 picks, the last one (in the red zone) killing their chance at a win in Miami. The Jets actually wound up with a decent shot at making the playoffs (if they'd won) as the day progressed but Sanchez's picks killed those hopes (as well as Tennessee's 1 pt win over Houston).
2. Denver Broncos Offense - All they had to do to win the game was score 8 points ... and they couldn't do that. Last week at the half they had 13 net passing yards, this week ... they had 29 yards. In a passing league, this offense is hard to watch. Next up ... the #1 ranked defense in the league ... the Pittsburgh Steelers. This will be a short visit to the playoffs for this offense.
1. Oakland Raiders Team - They were playing at home against a team already eliminated from the playoffs, and the Denver Broncos were losing. A win and you're in with a Denver loss couldn't compel this team to play focused, determined football. Penalties, clock mismanagement, and downright bad defense ended their season. Carson Palmer did his part throwing for more than 400 yards and 3 TD's, but he couldn't overcome the 38 points the Raiders defense and special teams (105 yd TD K.O. return) gave up. Hue Jackson stated in a recent interview that there will be an attitude and discipline change next year. Raiders nation hopes so.
* Tampa Bay was so bad ... they weren't worth mentioning.