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Week 17

Playoff field set with Rams, Colts in as the sixth seeds

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Posted: Saturday December 23, 2000 4:13 PM
Updated: Tuesday December 26, 2000 2:26 AM

  Marshall Faulk Marshall Faulk flew into the end zone and the record books with three touchdowns on Sunday. AP

By Jon A. Dolezar, CNNSI.com

The final weekend of the NFL regular season featured a scintillating 45 minutes of football that culminated with the defending champions making a return trip to the playoffs, while NFC Central rivals Detroit and Green Bay finished on the outside looking in.

In the final quarter of the early games, Green Bay was battling Tampa Bay into overtime, Detroit was blowing a lead against Chicago, and St. Louis was holding off New Orleans.

The Packers needed the Lions and Rams to lose, but they were likely too busy wishing Martin Gramatica's potential game-winning field goal to go wide right and send the game into overtime to notice that the Rams had already defeated the Saints and put an end to Green Bay's postseason hopes.

The Lions lost when Bears rookie kicker Paul Edinger hit a 54-yard field goal with two seconds left, sending Detroit home for the holidays after dropping three of its last four games.

As in life, fortunes in the NFL can turn on a dime, and for the Rams, Lions and Packers, their postseason fates went up-and-down more often than a yo-yo in about a 45-minute span between 3:30 and 4:15 p.m. EST.

For a look at the final playoff picture, check out CNNSI.com's Week 17 Playoff Outlook.

Here is the complete rundown of Week 17 action:

Week 17 NFL Recap
 
Giants 28 (12-4), Jaguars 25 (7-9)
Review Key Stat
Game Summary and
Game Recap
36: Points scored in the fourth quarter after the teams had combined for only 17 in the first three quarters.
Player of the Game
Amani Toomer, WR, New York: Caught eight passes for a career-high 193 yards and one touchdown.
CNNSI.com's Breakdown
Another scrappy win by the surprising Giants sewed up NFC home-field advantage. Credit the Giants for stepping up after head coach Jim Fassel made his now-infamous playoff guarantee. The Jaguars hung tough to the end, never throwing in the towel despite falling behind by 10 points twice in the final 3:16. The Giants controlled the ball for 34:21 despite running for only 80 yards on 31 carries. New York limited Jacksonville to 70 rushing yards, knocking red-hot Fred Taylor out of the game with an injury and breaking his nine-game, 100-yard rushing streak and quieting his comments about the untalented Giants. New York quarterback Kerry Collins threw for 321 yards and two touchdowns, finishing the season with 3,610 yards and 22 touchdowns. Jaguars wide receiver Keenan McCardell -- playing what may have been his final game for Jacksonville -- caught 11 passes for 131 yards.
 
Broncos 38 (11-5), 49ers 9 (6-10)
Review Key Stat
Game Summary and
Game Recap
201-110-7: Broncos' final home record (.643 winning percentage) at Mile High Stadium, including an 11-2 mark in the playoffs.
Player of the Game
Mike Anderson, RB, Denver: Capped off his amazing rookie season (297 carries for 1,500 yards and 14 touchdowns) by carrying the ball 26 times for 85 yards and one touchdown.
CNNSI.com's Breakdown
The Broncos couldn't have asked for a much better way to bid adieu to Mile High Stadium -- if it was in fact goodbye. Denver could still get a home playoff game, but should the Titans win Monday night, then the Broncos are headed to Baltimore to play the Ravens next week in a wild-card game. Broncos quarterback Gus Frerotte filled in well (18-of-29 for 205 yards and one touchdown) when Brian Griese reinjured his shoulder in the first quarter. Denver wide receivers Ed McCaffrey and Rod Smith joined Detroit's Herman Moore and Brett Perriman as the only teammates to both have 100 catches in the same season. Smith caught eight passes for 80 yards and McCaffrey grabbed five balls for 71 yards and a touchdown, giving them a combined 201 catches for 2,919 yards and 17 touchdowns this season. The Broncos controlled the ball for 36:07 and held the 49ers to 46 yards rushing, apparently solving their run defense problems after surrendering 264 rushing yards to the Chiefs last week.
 
Bills 42 (8-8), Seahawks 23 (6-10)
Review Key Stat
Game Summary and
Game Recap
267: Yards by which the Bills (579) outgained the Seahawks (312).
Player of the Game
Doug Flutie, QB, Buffalo: Capped a difficult season for himself and the Bills by throwing for a career-high 366 yards and three touchdowns on 20-of-25 passing.
CNNSI.com's Breakdown
Maybe the Bills were just playing the wrong guys on offense all season. Buffalo's backups exploded against the Seahawks, with running back Antowain Smith joining Flutie by having a career night rushing the football after replacing the injured Shawn Bryson. Smith carried 17 times for 147 yards and three touchdowns, surpassing his previous career best of 130 yards set Oct. 11, 1998, against Indianapolis. Bills wide receiver Peerless Price also had the best night of his young career, grabbing eight passes for 132 yards and a touchdown. Seattle hurt itself by fumbling five times (losing three) and surrendering five sacks.
 
Rams 26 (10-6), Saints 21 (10-6)
Review Key Stat
Game Summary and
Game Recap
26: NFL-record total touchdowns scored this season by Rams running back Marshall Faulk, breaking Cowboys running back Emmitt Smith's 1995 record of 25.
Player of the Game
Marshall Faulk, RB, St. Louis: Carried 32 times for 220 yards and two touchdowns, and caught seven passes for 41 yards and one touchdown.
CNNSI.com's Breakdown
The Rams eked into the playoffs to defend their Super Bowl title thanks to the Bears' 23-20 win at Detroit. St. Louis' reward will be a trip back to the Big Easy next week to face New Orleans in a wild-card game. The Rams dominated Sunday, despite the slim five-point margin, controlling the clock for 37:42 and rolling up 474 total yards. St. Louis ran for 246 yards on 42 carries and held New Orleans to only 73 rushing yards on 15 carries. Credit the Rams' pass rush and secondary for holding Saints quarterback Aaron Brooks to a 51.6 completion percentage (16-of-31) and only 6.7 yards per attempt on his 311 passes. In addition to Faulk's usual offensive heroics, Torry Holt had another big game, catching five passes for 121 yards to finish the season with 82 catches for 1,635 yards.
 
Bears 23 (5-11), Lions 20 (9-7)
Review Key Stat
Game Summary and
Game Recap
65.5: Completion percentage for Bears quarterbacks Shane Matthews (14-of-18) and Cade McNown (5-of-11), while Lions quarterbacks Charlie Batch (7-of-15) and Stoney Case (12-of-21) combined for only a 52.8 completion rate.
Player of the Game
Paul Edinger, K, Chicago: Rookie kicker nailed the game-winning 54-yard field goal with two seconds to play, and finished a perfect 3-for-3 on field goals for the day.
CNNSI.com's Breakdown
While Christmas week may bring joy to people everywhere, fans in Detroit must dread this time of year, which is usually right around the culmination of the Lions' annual fade. Case struggled after replacing the injured Batch, suffering four sacks, losing a fumble and throwing an interception. Bears defensive back R.W. McQuarters ran back an interception 61 yards for a touchdown with 6:31 to play to put Chicago on top 20-17. Chicago held Detroit running back James Stewart to only 57 yards on 20 carries, and didn't allow him any runs of more than 7 yards.
 
Packers 17 (9-7), Buccaneers 14 (10-6) OT
Review Key Stat
Game Summary and
Game Recap
0-19: Buccaneers' record when the game-time temperature is 40 degrees or less.
Player of the Game
Ahman Green, RB, Green Bay: Packers' season MVP carried 27 times for 74 yards and two touchdowns, and added nine catches for 78 yards to finish the season with 1,734 total yards and 13 touchdowns.
CNNSI.com's Breakdown
Packers kicker Ryan Longwell talked smack to his Buccaneers counterpart Martin Gramatica leading up to the game after Gramatica was chosen over him to represent the NFC in the Pro Bowl. Gramatica had a chance to get the cold-weather monkey off the Bucs' back, but he pushed the potential game-winning 40-yard field goal attempt right with nine seconds left, leaving the door open for Longwell to win it for Green Bay in overtime with his 22-yarder 6:31 into extra time. Bucs quarterback Shaun King struggled with his accuracy in the bitter cold, completing only 21 of 42 for 237 yards and one touchdown. Usually reliable cold-weather quarterback Brett Favre fared even worse than King, completing only 20-of-42 for 196 yards and two interceptions. Tampa Bay converted only 2-of-16 third-down situations, while Green Bay made it on 7 of 18 third-down plays. The Packers limited the Bucs to only one sack and dropped King five times, with defensive ends John Thierry and Vonnie Holliday each getting two.
 
Ravens 34 (12-4), Jets 20 (9-7)
Review Key Stat
Game Summary and
Game Recap
382: Yards by which the Jets (524) outgained the Ravens (142).
Player of the Game
Duane Starks, CB, Baltimore: Picked off two passes and added eight tackles to help the Ravens break the 1986 Bears' record for fewest points allowed in a season.
CNNSI.com's Breakdown
The Ravens are glad that the final score matters more than the stat sheet, because the numbers from Baltimore's season-ending victory against the New York Jets look pretty ugly. The Ravens gave up 473 passing yards while throwing for only 78 yards, and Baltimore managed only five first downs, but allowed 22 to New York. Six turnovers killed the Jets, none more costly than Ravens cornerback Chris McAlister's 98-yard return of a Vinny Testaverde interception late in the first half to put Baltimore on top 20-14 going into halftime. Testaverde threw the second-most passes in NFL history (69), second only to Drew Bledsoe's 70 attempts on Nov. 13, 1994. Testaverde threw for a career-high 481 yards, but his three interceptions doomed New York.
 
Dolphins 27 (11-5), Patriots 24 (5-11)
Review Key Stat
Game Summary and
Game Recap
35:39: Time of possession for the Dolphins, who managed to hold onto the ball that long despite averaging only 4.3 yards per play on 72 offensive plays.
Player of the Game
Olindo Mare, K, Miami: Made 2 of 4 field-goal attempts, but his 49-yard boot with nine seconds left won the game for the Dolphins.
CNNSI.com's Breakdown
The Dolphins' celebration for capping off an 11-5 season and an AFC East title was interrupted by news that they needed to return to the field for one final play. When Patriots quarterback Michael Bishop's Hail Mary pass fell harmlessly to the turf, Miami rushed back to the locker room to resume its merriment. Dolphins quarterback Jay Fielder completed 30-of-45 for 264 yards and one touchdown to offset the measly 26 yards on 20 carries that running back Lamar Smith gained. Neither team generated much offense on the ground, with the teams combining for only 84 rushing yards.
 
Eagles 16 (11-5), Bengals 7 (4-12)
Review Key Stat
Game Summary and
Game Recap
37:10: Time of possession for the Eagles, who rushed 35 times for 138 yards.
Player of the Game
Donovan McNabb, QB, Philadelphia: Capped of his amazing second season by completing 23 of 40 passes for 198 yards with one touchdown and one interception.
CNNSI.com's Breakdown
The Bengals' disastrous season came to a close with an ugly loss to the Eagles. Cincinnati turned the ball over three times, allowed two sacks and committed six penalties. Philadelphia converted 8 of 16 third downs, while Cincinnati succeeded on only 3 of 12 third-down situations. Eagles wide receiver Charles Johnson caught four passes for 69 yards and one touchdown, while Pro Bowl tight end Chad Lewis added nine catches for 66 yards.
 
Redskins 20 (8-8), Cardinals 3 (3-13)
Review Key Stat
Game Summary and
Game Recap
45.2: Completion percentage by Cardinals quarterback Jake Plummer, who threw three interceptions and averaged only 4.6 yards per attempt.
Player of the Game
Stephen Davis, RB, Washington: Carried 27 times for 120 yards, giving him 2,723 yards the past two seasons.
CNNSI.com's Breakdown
The Redskins capped off the most expensive .500 team in NFL history by routing the Cardinals and showing the kind of football that would've got them into the playoffs if they had played that way the first 15 games. Washington ground it out with Davis and relied on its defense to force Plummer and the incompetent Arizona offense into mistakes. The Redskins controlled the ball for 36:53 by running the ball 34 times for 140 yards. Redskins cornerback Champ Bailey played offense due to the beat-up wide receiving corps, and caught two passes for 54 yards, adding five tackles and an interception while working in his day job on defense.
 
Falcons 29 (4-12), Chiefs 13 (7-9)
Review Key Stat
Game Summary and
Game Recap
1,024: Rushing yards this season by Falcons running back Jamal Anderson, his fourth 1,000-yard season in the past five seasons.
Player of the Game
Chris Chandler, QB, Atlanta: Completed 20 of 29 for 163 yards and two touchdowns.
CNNSI.com's Breakdown
One week after beating the Broncos 20-7 at home last week, the Chiefs regressed to their sub-.500 ways by laying an egg against the Falcons in the season finale for these two disappointing teams. Chiefs tight end Tony Gonzalez caught five passes for 86 yards and a touchdown to finish the season with 93 catches for 1,203 yards and nine touchdowns. Atlanta held the football for 41:18, resembling its 1998 NFC championship squad in terms of ball-control offense and smothering defense. The Falcons sacked Chiefs quarterback Elvis Grbac four times and allowed him to complete only 56.2 percent of his passes. Falcons kicker Morten Andersen hit 5 of 5 field goals to finish at 80.6 percent this season, the eighth time in his 19-year career he has converted more than 80 percent of his field goals in a season.
 
Raiders 52 (12-4), Panthers 9 (7-9)
Review Key Stat
Game Summary and
Game Recap
12/22/63: Date of the Raiders' last 52-point game, when they defeated Houston 52-49.
Player of the Game
Rich Gannon, QB, Oakland: Completed 26 of 32 (81.2 completion percentage) for 230 yards and a career-high five touchdowns.
CNNSI.com's Breakdown
If the Raiders were looking to make a statement to the rest of the league, they did just that with a 43-point drubbing of the Panthers to clinch the AFC West and a first-round playoff bye. Gannon was spectacular, but the Raiders defense was tremendous too, forcing Carolina into four turnovers and limiting former Raiders quarterback Steve Beuerlein to 156 yards passing. Oakland's tight ends didn't put up big yardage, but Rickey Dudley and Jeremy Brigham each caught two touchdown passes, more than offsetting their meager 6.3 yards per catch average. Panthers wide receiver Mushin Muhammad was the lone bright spot for an otherwise lackluster Carolina squad, catching 10 passes for 115 yards to give him 102 catches for 1,184 yards for the season.
 
Colts 31 (10-6), Vikings 10 (11-5)
Review Key Stat
Game Summary and
Game Recap
5: Number of receivers with consecutive 100-catch season, now that Colts wide receiver Marvin Harrison has joined the club.
Player of the Game
Marvin Harrison, WR, Indianapolis: Caught 12 passes for 109 yards and three touchdowns to finish the season with 102 grabs for 1,413 yards and 14 touchdowns.
CNNSI.com's Breakdown
The Colts snuck into the playoffs as the No. 6 seed in the AFC by winning their last three games, and their reward is a trip to Miami on Saturday to face a Dolphins team that they defeated 20-13 at Pro Player Stadium in Week 16. Colts quarterback Peyton Manning broke his team record of 4,135 yards last season and broke Johnny Unitas' team record of 33 touchdowns passes set in 1959. With his 128-yard game, Colts running back Edgerrin James broke Eric Dickerson's team record of 1,659 yards set in 1988, and his 35 touchdowns are the most by any player in their first two seasons. The Colts finished the year with the NFL leaders in passing yards (Manning with 4,413 yards), rushing yards (James with 1,709 yards -- unless Tennessee's Eddie George runs for 283 yards against the Cowboys on Monday night) and receptions (Harrison with 102 receptions).
 
Steelers 34 (9-7), Chargers 21 (1-15)
Review Key Stat
Game Summary and
Game Recap
39:21: Time of possession for the Steelers, who outrushed the Chargers 131-31.
Player of the Game
Kordell Stewart, QB, Pittsburgh: Enigmatic Steelers signal-caller passed for 190 yards and one touchdown, but also ran 10 times for 81 yards and two touchdowns.
CNNSI.com's Breakdown
Pittsbrugh will be sitting home in January despite winning four of its final five games. San Diego only wishes it was able to win four games all season. The Steelers sacked Chargers quarterback Ryan Leaf six times, with linebacker Jason Gildon recording two sacks and linebacker Joey Porter and cornerback Deshea Townsend each chipped in with 1 1/2 sacks. Steelers running back Jerome Bettis was held to 51 yards on 26 carries, but the Chargers' leading rusher was Terrell Fletcher with 25 yards. San Diego became just the sixth team to go 1-15 since the NFL switched to a 16-game schedule in 1978, joining the 1980 Saints, 1989 Cowboys, 1990 Patriots, 1991 Colts and 1996 Jets.
 
Titans 31 (13-3), Cowboys 0 (5-11)
Review Key Stat
Game Summary and
Game Recap
279: Advantage in total offense for the Titans (374) over the Cowboys (95).
Player of the Game
Randall Godfrey, LB, Tennessee: Led an awesome effort by the Titans defense by recording 12 total tackles, 1 1/2 sacks and two forced fumbles.
CNNSI.com's Breakdown
The Titans have to be the Super Bowl favorites after wrapping up home-field advantage in the AFC by throttling the Cowboys. Titans running back Eddie George rushed 19 times for 83 yards and a touchdown to finish the season with 1,509 rushing yards and 14 touchdowns. Tennessee's defense held Cowboys running back Emmitt Smith to 20 yards on 12 carries. Dallas fumbled eight times (losing three) and surrendered four sacks. Cowboys quarterback Anthony Wright had a miserable night, completing only 5 of 20 for 35 yards and two interceptions. Dallas finished with only 9 net passing yards, as the four sacks allowed amounted to -26 yards. Titans quarterback Steve McNair completed 17-of-23 for 188 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions before giving way to Neil O'Donnell in the second half once the game was already out of hand.


 
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