We'll be putting all our GIFs for the day here, from every last person in the league—coaches, players, mascots—breaking out that one dance move they've been saving up all year, to a referee in New Orleans thinking he could pick his nose because no one was watching. We'll update the post as the later games conclude, so stay tuned.
New York Giants 42, Philadelphia 7: An excellent game from the Giants, and exactly the type of effort they've been searching for over the past four weeks. The superior performance from their stars—Eli Manning threw three touchdowns before the end of the first quarter—and from their defense as a whole negated what little firepower the Eagles had, inspired the fans at the Meadowlands, and put them in a perfect position to be mathematically eliminated from the playoffs immediately, because the Bears won. So...yeah. We wave the Giants goodbye with some of the cool (and sort of idiotic) things they did today. First, the cool: Ahmad Bradshaw, spinning away from an Eagle as so many rushers did this year.
And the sort of idotic: Henry Hynoski, doing this, after scoring the touchdown that made it 42-7.
We'll say goodbye to the Eagles, naturally, by showing them fucking up tremendously. This kick was not tipped:
Carolina 44, New Orleans 38: This game may well have been entertaining—close! high scoring! good quarterbacks!—but it was between two teams finishing the season 7-9, both eliminated from the playoffs at the start of the day, so who knows. The Saints managed to secure the record for most yards ever given up in a season and a ref picked his nose:
Indianapolis 28, Houston 16: The Colts won in Chuck Pagano's return (ChuckStrong), opening the door, conceivably, for the Texans to lose their #1 seed and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs if the Broncos beat the Chiefs this afternoon. Matt Schaub threw two interceptions to Vontae Davis and this kick return by Deji Karim was, as they say, a momentum-changer. Andrew Luck went on to throw a long touchdown to T.Y. Hilton on third and 23, and that wrapped it up. Now: A week of stories about the inspirational Colts being a legit playoff threat.
Tennessee 38, Jacksonville 20: This game would have escaped all notability were it not for two things: First, the Titans scored 28 consecutive points—starting in the first quarter—without running an offensive play. Pick-six, punt return touchdown, punt return touchdown, pick six. By the end of it, the Titans were up 35-14, and that was essentially all she wrote, though really "she" stopped writing weeks ago. The other notable thing is the way the bad teams reliably provide viewers with such pinpoint explanations of why they're bad. Look at the Titans' tackling technique:
That's not going to bring anybody down! And special teams coverage like this, well, it'll get you 28 straight points scored without the other team running an offensive play:
Ultimately, the day offered enough reminders about why the Jaguars and Titans are a combined 8-24 that even being theatrically ashamed of them got to be too much. Maybe next year, one of these sorry franchises will make wearing a bag on your head worth it.
Cincinnati 23, Baltimore 17: A game that didn't matter for much of anything and mattered even less because of its result: had the Ravens won (and the Patriots lost), the two teams could have faced off in the first round of the playoffs, and sports pundits could have cautioned us during the intervening week not to take too much from a week 17 matchup between teams that weren't playing for much of anything. Instead it's Ravens-Colts, with the Bengals still locked into the sixth seed. Oh well. Here's the Bengals' mascot dancing:
Buffalo 28, New York Jets 9: Is it possible for a game to have negative playoff implications? Can participating in a game at the end of one season count against your record for next year? Ah, it doesn't matter—they'll be starting far enough behind anyway. In his first game back in the starter's role after that Monday Night Football game in Tennessee that cemented his already rock-solid reputation as an objectively bad player, Mark Sanchez posted a 55.1 quarterback rating with no touchdowns and an interception. The interception looked like this. Note Bryan Scott, not being tackled before reaching the end zone:
And finally, because it just wouldn't be the 2012 Jets if Tim Tebow wasn't doing something awkward or being transparently bored on the sidelines, here he is yawning. Don't worry Tim, it's warmer in Jacksonville.
Tampa Bay 22, Atlanta 17: The most useless game of the day—Tampa Bay is eliminated, Atlanta has the NFC's #1 seed locked up—and Matt Ryan still threw the ball 44 times. We have but one GIF, and it is Falcons punter Matt Bosher doinking a ball off his own teammate. It ended up at the Atlanta 26 and the Bucs only got a field goal out of it, which is the type of thing that makes you 7-9.
Pittsburgh 24, Cleveland 10: Disappointing seasons wrap up in Pittsburgh and Cleveland, as the Steelers compile the most mediocre possible record, 8-8, and the Browns end up with what's known as "a Cleveland 8-8"—5-11. The sun sets on the Pat Shurmur era in Cleveland, but a new franchise savior arrived today to take the reins: Thad Lewis, who wasn't, like, terrible, for a Duke graduate named "Thad." Fittingly, this game provided but one highlight, and it was a failure highlight: Phil Dawson, missing his first field goal after an entire season of dead-on accuracy.
Chicago 26, Detroit 24: The game that ruined the day—slightly earlier than it would otherwise have been ruined—of many a Giants fan got surprisingly close, as the Bears (who held a 20-3 lead at one point) figured they may as well induce a few heart attacks if they weren't going to get knocked out of the playoffs altogether. That meant watching Lions—TE Will Heller included—do ridiculous touchdown dances, because in week 17, everyone in the NFL just decided to break out whatever dances they had stored up. Calvin Johnson had no idea what this was:
Though the Lions made a sprited run, they'd staked the Bears too large a lead. Chicago now awaits the result of Green Bay-Minnesota.
Denver 38, Kansas City 3: Brady Quinn had 49 passing yards. For the game. There are several ways to compare that number to those put up by Peyton Manning that would reflect poorly on Brady Quinn and the Chiefs in general, but examples really aren't necessary at this point right? Plus, Manning did not have a completion of 49 yards or more to really hammer it home cleanly. Anyway, here is a beautiful GIF of Demaryius Thomas going up with one to corral a 13 yard strike from Manning six minutes into the the third quarter. It is as pretty as it is superfluous. Cripes, the Chiefs.
San Diego 24, Oakland 21:
Say this of the Terrelle Pryor era for the Oakland Raiders: it resembles football. Just look, he hits someone with a stiff arm and then he gets hit. That happens sometimes in football.
Seattle 20, St. Louis 13: Russell Wilson had 250 yards and one touchdown. The Rams miss out on that elusive winning season while the Seahawks finish the regular season with an 11-5 record. They will travel to play the winner of Dallas-Washington. No GIFs!
Minnesota 37, Green Bay 34: What a game. The Vikings won on a 29-yard field goal as time expired and secured a playoff spot and the Packers lost the #2 seed to the 49ers. But before we get to that, there was a weird moment in the third quarter and FOX did a great job breaking it down. James Jones made what looked to be a diving touchdown—at the very least he appeared down by contact—and then fumbled the ball. It was ruled a fumble and Vikings recovery. Green Bay lost their collective shit, McCarthy threw a challenge flag—importantly, though, it occurred after the replay booth had buzzed down to review the play (since it was ruled a turnover)—thus allowing the referees to review the play and negate the penalty that burned the Lions when Jim Schwartz similarly challenged an automatically-reviewed play.
The play was reviewed and Mike Carey, master showman that he is, had us all on the very edges of our seats before eventually getting around to reversing the play and ruling it a touchdown. And the Packers crept ever closer—down only three, now—27-24.
Adrian Peterson did not eclipse Eric Dickerson—he came up nine yards short—but he did set up the winning field goal with a characteristically bruising and elegant run. When asked after the game what it felt like to come up just short, he had no idea he was even that close.
Here's teacher's pet, Jordy Nelson, trying to clean up his boss's mess. As Mike Carey explained, however, it was unnecessary.
On what wound up being a 45-yard play to Gregg Jennings, two Vikings haplessly ran into each other setting up first and goal inside the Vikings 10 yard line. Jennings would get the touchdown two plays later. It was his second of the day.
And finally, here is a Packers fan passing out from either too much booze, a preexisting medical condition or maybe a really attractive lady gave him a kiss on the cheek, like in the movies.
New England 28, Miami 0: Rob Gronkowski caught a 23-yard pass from Tom Brady with 9:20 remaining in the fourth quarter of a 21-0 game. Interesting note: Tom Brady was playing and also throwing 23 yard touchdown passes with 9:20 left in a 21-0 game against the Dolphins—these Dolphins:
Because we are all 13 years old, here is Wes Welker with some loose
bowel ball movement. It initially looked like it could be the buttfumble's smelly cousin the butterception—oh how I wished it were so—but it was ruled an incomplete pass. The Patriots: your #2 seed.
San Francisco 27, Arizona 13: The 49ers wrapped up the NFC west on career days for both Michael Crabtree and Colin Kaepernick. Crabtree had a big day, with two touchdowns (49, 7) and a career high 172 yards receiving. Kapernick also had a career high 276 yards passing.
Here's Michael Crabtree looking the ball into his hands, through the hands of a defender, and taking it into the endzone, narrowly avoiding a sure pick-six. Crabtree's second touchdown of the day put the 49ers up 17-6 with six minutes remaining in the third quarter.