NFL scores, news and highlights: What happened Sunday, Week 17
The NFL regular season is over. The playoffs are all set to begin. Join us for a look back at the regular season finale.
Who are these Cowboys?
By Eric Sollenberger
The Dallas Cowboys steamrolled through FedEx field 44-17 on Sunday, putting the finishing touches on a 12-4 season. The victory also put the finishing touches on their 8-0 record in away games, a feat that hasn’t been accomplished since the Patriots perfect 2007 season. This bodes well for the Cowboys if past performances can be considered indicators of future results – six out of the seven teams that have won every away game have gone on to reach the Super Bowl.
It’s no coincidence that this team does so well on the road. When the Cowboys play away from home they play mad. They come out swinging and they do things like drop a surprise onside kick in the second quarter. As they did today, they do things like keeping Tony Romo and Demarco Murray in the game through the fourth quarter, a move that would be described as reckless by most and fire-able by some if either had sustained a serious injury. But they live by the sword and they die by it. They step on teams’ throats outside of Arlington. They have an attitude that has been missing from the franchise since midway through the Parcells era.
The stupidity of Garrett’s move aside, it speaks to the mentality that this Cowboys team has carried with them. Picked by many to bring up the rear in the NFC East, they have played incredibly physical football, most visibly in their dominance at the line of scrimmage. Today’s game was no different- the Cowboys O-line bullied their way to a 6.7 YPC average for the Dallas running backs while giving up only one sack.
The best performance of the day came from the Cowboys defense, more specifically Bruce Carter. The third-year linebacker caught two difficult interceptions, and assisted on a big fourth down stop on Washington TE Jordan Reed when the game was still a contest. The Dallas defense as a unit held Washington to 4-12 on third down, and 0-2 on fourth down.
The Week 17 result sends Washington into a familiar offseason of uncertainty. It wouldn’t shock anyone if first-year head coach Jay Gruden was let go, or if Griffin was traded unceremoniously. There’s really not a whole lot that would shock anyone about this football team anymore, but I’m sure they’ll find a way.
As far as the on-field product for Washington, their defense continued its performance as perhaps the league’s most consistently disappointing unit over the past 5 years. According to @SportingParagon, defensive coordinator Jim Haslett set NFL records for the most total yards allowed by any coordinator over a five-year span, and fell just 16 points shy of matching the record for most total points allowed. There shouldn’t be any way that Haslett returns next year, but again, this is Washington. As usual, the most entertaining part of the year in D.C. should be the offseason.
By Danny Kelly
The Seahawks went into halftime down 6-0 to a plucky Rams team, but dominated the second half thanks to a Bruce Irvin pick-six and a Marshawn Lynch touchdown run, and now lock up home-field advantage throughout the Playoffs for the second straight season. The defending Super Bowl Champs own one of the strongest home-field advantages in the NFL, are 22-2 over their last 24 home games, where they have outscored opponents by 357 points, and have 55 takeaways and a +22 turnover margin in that time.
Seattle’s road to the No. 1 seed has been a bit rocky this season as they struggled with many of the issues that typically plague Super Bowl winners, but they’ve set themselves up well for a run at a repeat.
Green Bay survived an Aaron Rodgers calf injury scare run away from the Lions in the second half, giving them yet another division title and a valuable first-round bye in the Playoffs. Rogers finished 17-of-22 for 226 yards and two touchdowns, including one that he threw right after aggravating an older calf injury.
The Packers win means Detroit has still not won in Green Bay for 23 years, and the loss for Detroit means they’ll have to travel to Dallas to take on a red-hot Cowboys team on the road, not an easy proposition. To the victor go the spoils, though, and Green Bay now gets to host the highest seeded team to emerge from the Wildcard round — a big advantage for a team that finished 8-0 at home and just 4-4 on the road.
If the Packers and Seahawks both make it through the divisional round, that sets up an intriguing matchup in Seattle. Green Bay lost its last two against the Seattle, including a 36-16 throttling in Week 1 this season. Both of those games were in Seattle too. But this is the postseason, and if it gets that far, you’d have to think the Packers could put up more a fight this time, … right?
Ravens clinch AFC’s final spot
By Danny Kelly
The Ravens made it stressful for their fanbase Sunday, going into the fourth quarter trailing 10-3 to the Browns and in desperate need of a win to stay alive. Baltimore rallied late though, scoring 17 straight points as Joe Flacco connected with Torrey Smith and Kamar Aiken on late-game touchdown passes. Along with a San Diego loss, the Ravens clinched the AFC’s six-seed.
Justin Forsett, the “out of nowhere” player of the year that took over in the backfield after Ray Rice was dropped, finishes the year with 1,266 rushing yards and eight touchdowns after adding another 119 on the ground Sunday afternoon. The seventh-year pro has provided the Ravens with a spark all season, and the respected veteran transitioned seamlessly into Gary Kubiak’s zone blocking scheme, a system Forsett has played in his whole career.
Baltimore finishes 10-6 in the toughest division in the NFL, and the AFC North sends three teams to the playoffs. The Ravens return to the Playoffs after missing the cut last season, and the 10-6 mark matches the record they had in 2012 when they won Super Bowl XLVII.
Panthers clinch NFC South
By Danny Kelly
The Panthers went into Atlanta on Sunday and dominated the winner-take-all game from start to finish, running away with the NFC South 34-3. It’s a pretty remarkable feat for a team that was, at one point, all but left for dead in the NFC South. From early October to late November, Carolina went without a win, and during a ten game stretch smack dab in the middle of the season — from Week 3 to Week 13 — they were 1-8-1.
Cam Newton and company bounced back, though, and were lucky in the fact that they were in one of the weakest divisions in NFL history. With the help of a four-game win streak to end the year, Carolina won the NFC South for the second year in a row, but this time with a losing record — 7-8-1. The good news for the Panthers is that their defense looked like the one that helped them to a 12-4 record last year.
In a funny twist of fate (if you want to call it funny), the Panthers will now host the free-falling Cardinals, who are down to their third-string quarterback and have lost four of their last six games, including their last two to the Seahawks and Niners.
2. The Browns are turning on Johnny Manziel and Josh Gordon.
4. Your weekly Odell Beckham Jr. WOW moment.
5. There was a raw sewage leak in the Falcons locker room … the NFC South!
Cleveland Browns 10, Baltimore Ravens 20 (final)
Dallas Cowboys 44, Washington 17 (final)
Buffalo Bills 17, New England Patriots 9 (final)
Kansas City Chiefs 19, San Diego Chargers 7 (final)
Arizona Cardinals 17, San Francisco 49ers 20 (final)
Detroit Lions 20, Green Bay Packers 30 (final)
St. Louis Rams 6, Seattle Seahawks 21 (final)
Carolina Panthers 34, Atlanta Falcons 3 (final)