Thursday night didn’t see any former Knights in the matchup between the Giants and Eagles in Philadelphia. The Eagles prevailed, but with the results later in the weekend, the Giants clinched a playoff spot.
First up on Saturday, Leonte Carroo and Miami woke up with a chance to get their first postseason berth since 2008 (covered in Knights in the Pros last week). The Dolphins prevailed in overtime and after the game, Rex Ryan was fired as coach of Buffalo. Buffalo has the longest playoff drought in the NFL, dating back to 1999.
Next up was the biggest laugher of the weekend. Logan Ryan (4 tackles, 1 PD), Duron Harmon (3 tackles), and Devin McCourty (6 tackles, 0.5 for loss) hosted the inept New York Jets. Jets starting QB Bryce Petty was injured, but Ryan Fitzpatrick didn’t do much better. The Patriots led by the Scarlet Knights trio forced Jets QBs into the lowest team Quarterback Rating in the NFL this season. McCourty may get a rest this week or just a few reps as the Pats have already clinched home field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs.
Devin’s brother Jason McCourty and his Titans hoped to keep their playoff hopes alive. An injured Jason could only watch as his team was torched by the previously hapless Jaguars 38-17 that also saw star QB, Marcus Mariota injured. Tennessee won’t be in the playoffs this year, but their future is bright as they look toward next season and a ton of uncertainty elsewhere in their division.
Mohamed Sanu and the Falcons kept on rolling along, this time annihilating their division foe Panthers 33-16. For the second straight week they got a starting receiver back as Julio Jones returned from injury to edge Sanu in both receptions (4-3) and yards (60-56) in the win. With a win or Seahawks loss in Week 17, Atlanta will clinch a first round bye.
Brandon Coleman (1 special teams tackle) hosted Andrew DePaola and a Tampa Bay team hungry for a playoff berth. The Saints prevailed 31-24 despite a strong performance from DePaola’s kicking teams, Aguayo was 4-4 between FGs/XPs and Anger averaged 51 yards on his 3 punts all being downed inside the 20. The Bucs still have a slight mathematical chance of the playoffs, as a win would tie them with either Green Bay or Detroit’s loser. The tiebreakers are almost identical in conference record, division record, as it would come down to ridiculous strength of victory and other arcane tiebreakers. A Washington win would eliminate them in either case.
Marcus Cooper’s Cardinals traveled to their recently crowned division champ rival Seahawks. In a thriller at the NFL’s loudest venue, Arizona triumphed 34-31. Cooper was ruled out before the game, but could return for the season’s final game at Los Angeles against his fellow former Knight ...
Kenny Britt had been ruled out due to injury but managed to step on the field for his Rams hosting the 49ers. The 49ers ended up winning only their second game of the season (both vs LA) 22-21 on an exciting 2 point conversion down 1 late in the game. The highlight for the Rams was Britt’s 15 yard catch for a first down on their first drive of the game. The play put Kenny Britt above the 1,000 yard receiving mark on the season, the first Rutgers player ever to achieve the feat in the NFL. Unfortunately, the following play Goff targeted Britt again but was intercepted. Kenny would not make another catch on the day.
The last game Saturday had Clark Harris and Tyler Kroft of Cincinnati travelling to Tom Savage’s first NFL start in Houston. The Texans won again to punch their ticket to the postseason dance as division champs in a dogfight 12-10. Savage completed 18 of 29 passes for 176 yards. He added a nice 11 yard run on his only attempt as well. Neither Bengal recorded any stats.
Sunday Night football featured Jeremy Zuttah’s Ravens in Pittsburgh hoping to get the edge in the division race. In possibly the best game of the day the teams traded the lead back and forth, finally ending with 14 seconds left on an incredible Antonio Brown effort for the winning touchdown. Zuttah and the offensive line only allowed 2 sacks on 46 drop backs and added 122 rushing yards on a 4.7 average. With the loss though, Baltimore was eliminated from playoff contention.
Quentin Gause’s NFL career continued in Kansas City, but the Broncos were pummeled 33-10. The Super Bowl champs will not repeat as they are left out of the AFC playoffs. Gause was inactive for the game but will hopefully get some defensive snaps in the team’s finale against Oakland giving him valuable experience heading into next season.
Monday Night football had Michael Burton (only 2 snaps again) and Detroit travelling to Dallas to get back on track. They didn’t and 21-21 game in the 3rd quarter turned into a blowout as Dallas turned it on late. With the loss, the Lions will face Green Bay with the division title on the line on New Year’s Day. The loser could mathematically sneak in as a wild card, but going to Seattle or Atlanta is surely not as fun as hosting a game.
NOTES: Injured Reserve tracker (Freeny, Wright, Johnson). Practice squad (Longa)
Knights in the pros FLASHBACK ... 2003 Week 16.
A free agent rookie, who had walked on at Rutgers, Gary Brackett’s journey to the NFL was incredibly improbable. But he found himself playing in a huge game late in the season as the 11-3 Colts hosted the 9-5 Broncos on Sunday Night Football. Brackett was in the midst of several personal tragedies, but able to get himself ready regardless.
Having not started but being inserted on a third down and six to go on the first drive of the game, Brackett got his hands on a Jake Plummer pass. He corralled the interception and raced 31 yards for a touchdown giving the Colts an early lead. It was the only INT or even pass defended on the season, but the Colts high powered offense only mustered 10 points the rest of the way and ended up falling 31-17.
The team regrouped and won the following week to claim their first AFC South crown. Indianapolis then avenged their loss to Denver in the AFC Wild Card game, drubbing them 41-10 to advance to the divisional round. After defeating another AFC West team, Kansas City, they reached the AFC title game where they would fall to the eventual champion New England Patriots.
Brackett would become a starter and captain, registering 86 regular season (plus 11 postseason) starts in his 9 year career, all with the Colts. He would play in two Super Bowls, winning one for the Colts. Today he owns a restaurant in Indianapolis.