All the games in this week 17 were played on Sunday, beginning with Jeremy Zuttah’s Ravens in Cincinnati visiting Clark Harris and Tyler Kroft. Baltimore ended up on the wrong end of this one, perhaps deflated by their having nothing to play for in the finale of a season that had so much hope for most of it. The Ravens finish 8-8, while the Bengals disappointing season ended at 6-9-1 after an unprecedented 5 consecutive playoff appearances that ended in the wild card round. They have the NFL’s longest playoff win drought dating to 1990.
Jason McCourty and his Titans got a look at Tom Savage. The Texans playoff position as the #4 seed was already locked in with a date next week against the AFC West 2nd place finisher (Oakland or KC). McCourty did not play, but Tennessee was victorious to finish in a tie for the division title at 9-7. Unfortunately for the Titans, their 2-4 division record means they are on the outside of the playoffs, losing the tiebreaker to Houston who was 5-1 in AFC South play.
Andrew DePaola and a Tampa Bay looked for everything to go right and sneak in the playoffs, but first needed to beat Carolina at home. They did 17-16, despite 2 missed field goals, but very much thanks to 5 punts by their punter on the day, all that ended up inside the 20. The Panthers last second 2 point conversion attempt for the win was broken up. Unfortunately as the day went on, Tampa Bay didn’t get all the help they needed and are on the outside looking into the playoffs at 9-7, like Tennessee. In the Bucs case though the 5th tiebreaker had to be used, strength of victory to which they will fall short of the Lions-Packers loser regardless.
Leonte Carroo (0 targets) and Miami were already playoff bound as the 6 seed hosting the Pats. Logan Ryan (7 tackles, 1 PD) and Devin McCourty (7 tackles) shared the team lead in that stat, and the outcome was never in doubt. Ryan added an interception as well, making it a baker’s dozen in his NFL career. Duron Harmon (1 tackles), and the Patriots already had the first round bye locked up and await their 2nd round opponent.
Mohamed Sanu (4 catches, 32 yards, 1 TD) and the Falcons looked to lock up a first round bye against Brandon Coleman (1 catch, 8 yards) and the Saints. They did in the highest scoring game of the day, winning a shootout 38-32, the final score not representing the fact that it was 38-13 as the 4th quarter began. The Saints finish 7-9 unlike their performance in our Knights in the Pros flashback below. Atlanta like New England will wait to see who they play in the 2nd round of the playoffs.
Marcus Cooper (3 tackles) hoped he would have a turn to cover Kenny Britt barring injury in Arizona’s matchup with Los Angeles. Unfortunately Britt was held out, crippling an already anemic Ram offense. The Rams defense did not show up either and was torched for 44 points, the highest point total in the league on the day. The Rams first season back in L.A. finished a disappointing 4-12. The Cardinals failed to meet expectations as well, finishing 7-8-1 after a division title a year ago.
Quentin Gause (1 tackle) hoped to see some time in Week 17 as Denver hosted the Raiders. Hopefully Quentin doesn’t still have nightmares of Derek Carr from the Scarlet Knights 2013 season opener at Fresno State. The Raiders had plenty to play for with a division title and first round bye at stake. Instead, they out up a dud with Carr injured, falling 24-6 and will now have to play a wild card game in Houston by virtue of Kansas City’s win. Denver played with plenty of passion to finish at 9-7, but the defending Super Bowl champs will not have an opportunity to defend their title.
Sunday Night football had Michael Burton and the Lions in a winner take all game for the NFC North title against the Packers. The matchup lost a little luster as the day’s earlier game results meant both teams would be in the playoffs regardless. The winner to host the Giants, and loser to visit Seattle. The Lions fell short in their quest to end the most consecutive seasons by any team in the league in failing to win a division title (23)*. After an onside kick attempt, there would have been time for one final play had they recovered, but they did not. Regardless, the Lions and Packers will both play next week anyway. It would have been nice to hang a banner in Ford Field though.
NOTES: Injured Reserve tracker (Freeny, Wright, Johnson). Practice squad (Longa)
Other local NFL scores: Eagles 27, Cowboys 13 .. Jets 30, Buffalo 10 .. Giants 19, Redskins 10
Knights in the pros FLASHBACK ... 2003 Week 17: Jay Bellamy.
The Saints had found out earlier in the week that their playoff hopes were eradicated, but came prepared for the playoff bound Cowboys in the season finale. The Saints stood at 7-8 and for the long suffering franchise, finishing .500 would mean more than it would to many other teams.
With the Saints clinging to a 10-7 lead in the 3rd quarter, Jay Bellamy, Matawan HS and RU alum, intercepted a pass intended for Terry Glenn. On the ensuing drive, the Saints would register another field goal which would turn out to be the game’s final points. The following drive, Bellamy stopped Richie Anderson inches from the line to gain forcing a punt. With Dallas again driving in the 4th quarter, Bellamy sacked Cowboys QB Quincy Carter for a loss of 16 yards. The Saints committed a pass interference penalty on the next play, but still forced Dallas to punt, one of the downs being another tackle for loss by Bellamy, his third TFL of the 4th quarter!
Dallas still had one final chance, getting the ball down to the Saints 27, with a first down and 1:33 remaining in the game. Carter tried to go for it all to Glenn, but Bellamy made his second interception of the game and the Saints would effectively run out the clock to win it. It was Bellamy’s 2nd two interception game of his career and he also finished with 7 tackles. It was surely one of the best games ever played in the NFL by a former Scarlet Knight.
The Saints would miss out on the playoffs again in 2004 based on tiebreakers to two teams with identical records, but in 2006 they would reach the conference championship game, the last playoff game Bellamy would play in. The Saints would culminate the best decade in franchise history, capturing the elusive victory in Super Bowl XLIV.
Bellamy began his career as an undrafted free agent with Seattle who quickly realized his instincts in deep coverage moved him to safety. By his second year he was a special teams stalwart, and in his fourth season he would be named a starter. He would start every game he played in for the next 8 seasons between Seattle and New Orleans.
Bellamy finished his career playing in 179 regular season games with 125 starts, 756 tackles, 24 Interceptions, 8 forced fumbles, 8 fumble recoveries, and 9.5 sacks. He did score one interception return touchdown. He played in 3 postseason contests (all starts) between Seattle and New Orleans.