Saturday, January 5, 2013

NFL '12 Dread News - Week 17

Instead of my usual weekly gavel-to-gavel viewing of the Falcons' and Chiefs' games, I gave my remotes a workout this week, constantly switching from one game to another. The result: I filled up almost 7 pieces of paper with notes from what I saw. The bulk of this week's report lists some of the highlights. Just a couple of things before we get started. I didn't watch as much of the Ravens-Bengals game as I had planned because BenJarvus Green-Ellis was injured and did not play at all, and because Torrey Smith didn't play much (most of the Ravens' starters sat out most of the game to avoid injury). And there won't be many notes from the 2nd half of the Chiefs-Broncos game - because I just couldn't take anymore; it actually hurt to watch it). Anyway, here's NFL Week 17 through the eyes of the house of dread, minute-by-minute (items in parenthesis are additional info and did not necessarily happen at the time listed).


12:03 PM CT - Jacquizz Rodgers returns the opening kickoff 12 yards for Falcons against Tampa Bay

12:03 - Joique Bell does better for Lions, returning opening kickoff 30 yards to the 33-yard line against Bears

12:04 - On 2nd play from scrimmage, Bengals S Reggie Nelson tackles Ravens FB Vonta Leach after a 2-yard reception; Leach leaves the game injured

12:07 - Chris Johnson scores a 2-yard TD run for Titans against Jaguars then does a different celebration than his usual one

12:13 - Torrey Smith loses 4 on a reverse on 1st down (it would be the only time he touched the ball all game)

12:17 - Falcons CB Dunta Robinson injures himself trying to tackle RB Doug Martin then quickly takes off his helmet, revealing those super long dreads of his

12:20 - Now Falcons' other starting CB is down, as Asante Samuel aggravates a shoulder injury while making the tackle on 5-yard reception by WR Mike Williams

12:21 - Browns WR Travis Benjamin is wide open on an out route on 2nd and 7 for a 12-yard catch to the Steelers' 21-yard line

12:23 - Uh-oh, QB Thaddeus Lewis tries to hit Benjamin again on same out route two plays later, but this time S Troy Polamalu reads the play and gets over to the sideline in time to make the INT before going out of bounds at the  17-yard line
12:32 - On first play after Joique Bell fumbled on a kickoff return, Bears WR Brandon Marshall tries for a TD catch, but S Louis Delmas breaks up the pass. Delmas originally wasn't there in time, but Marshall juggled the ball, and Delmas made sure he didn't get a 2nd chance (Bears kicked a FG three plays later for a 10-3 lead)
12:37 - Asante Samuel is back in game, but no sign of Dunta Robinson

12:39 - Samuel tackles TE Luke Stocker 2 yards short of first down on 3rd and 9 on last play of 1st quarter; game is tied 3-3

12:44 - Ex-dread RB Anthony Allen scores his 1st career TD, a 2-yard run to give Ravens 7-0 lead late in 1st quarter

12:52 - With QB Josh Freeman scrambling to buy time, Asante Samuel can't stay with Mike Williams, who makes 8-yard TD catch in back of end zone to put Bucs in front 10-3

12:55 - On 1st and 20 midway through 2nd quarter Jaguars DE Austen Lane and S Chris Prosinski stop QB Jake Locker for a 7-yard loss (it was not ruled a sack apparently because the play was a designed run by Locker)
1:02 - Ticker at bottom of TV screen shows Panthers RB DeAngelo Williams with 81 yards rushing already on just 5 carries

1:06 - As Brandon Marshall limps to Bears' sideline, he goes near LB J.T. Thomas, who is letting his hair grow (I didn't know that); hopefully he's planning on bringing back the dreads he had for a while when he was in college at West Virginia

1:15 - Yes! Tim Jennings gets his 9th INT of the season and returns it 31 yards to the Lions' 23 (Bears settle for a FG four plays later and lead 20-3)
1:20 - On the first play after the 2-minute warning, Colts LB Mario Harvey holds Texans S Danieal Manning to an 18-yard kickoff return, making the tackle at the 13-yard line

1:23 - Lions RB Mikel Leshoure runs after the catch for 9-yard gain as he eludes CB Charles Tillman on the play; Tillman was blocked in the back but there was no penalty called

1:30 - Tim Jennings gets beat by WR Kris Durham for a 25-yard TD on a pass to the sideline; Lions pull to within 20-10 with 12 seconds to go until halftime

1:52 - Bills CB Stephon Gilmore gets beat by Jets WR Jeremy Kerley for a 40-yard completion to the 29-yard line (but Jets punt four plays later, Bills still lead 14-9)

2:01 - REGGIE, NO! - Reggie Nelson has chance for easy pick 6 but drops the INT on 3rd and 8 from the BAL 17-yard line

2:04 - Watching replay of INT by Asante Samuel and 11-yard return to TB 21-yard line (Falcons score TD two plays later to pull within 16-10)

2:05 - DeAngelo Williams cuts through big hole and runs 54 yards to the house to cut Saints lead to 24-20; Williams is up to 160 yards on 9 carries!

2:09 - Steelers DT Steve McLendon gets credit for a half sack, tackling Thaddeus Lewis for 4-yard loss during final minute of 3rd quarter

2:10 - Notice on ticker that Colts have just scored a TD and quickly switch to that game - just in time to see RB Deji Karim celebrating with teammates after taking a kickoff return to the house; Colts back in front 21-16

2:19 - Browns DE Jabaal Sheard sacks QB Ben Roethlisberger for an 8-yard loss at the PIT 5-yard line on 3rd and 3 early in 4th quarter; Steelers still ahead by 7

2:21 - After a pass was deflected, Charles Tillman can't make the INT on 3rd and 5 from the DET 25; might have been his 4th pick 6 of the season if he would've held on
2:24 - Panthers S Charles Godfrey makes a nice leaping INT at the Saints' 36-yard line late in 3rd quarter; sideline shot shows he has his dreads reduced this week

2:29 - Two plays later DeAngelo Williams is stopped at 1-yard line after a 4-yard run and heads to sideline (as he usually does in short yardage situations; RB Mike Tolbert got the TD on the next play)

2:30 - You don't see this every day - on a reception to the DET 4-yard line Brandon Marshall and CB Chris Houston both lose a shoe on the same play

2:32 - Jabaal Sheard with another sack of Ben Roethlisberger, this time on 3rd and 8; still 17-10 Steelers midway through 4th

2:34 - Bengals rookie LB Emmanuel Lamur comes through unblocked hoping for a sack on 2nd and goal, but loses contain and QB Tyrod Taylor easily eludes him and walks into end zone for easy 1-yard TD; Ravens take 14-13 lead early in 4th

2:35 - Travis Benjamin makes nice catch of low throw, but as he gets up off the ground CB Cortez Allen immediately strips him of the ball at midfield and Steelers recover (6 plays later Steelers increased their lead to 24-10 on TD catch by Plaxico Burress)

2:43 - Tim Jennings gets beat for another TD, on a tough to cover slant by WR Brian Robiskie for a 9-yard reception; Lions pull within 26-24 with 6:55 to go

2:54 - Tim Jennings redeems himself, breaking up a pass intended for Kris Durham on 3rd and 6; Lions punt with 3:54 to go

2:54 - Bucs CB E.J. Biggers breaks up pass intended for WR Julio Jones on 2nd and 10 with 2:11 remaining at Atlanta
2:55 - Bucs rookie S Mark Barron breaks up pass intended for TE Tony Gonzalez on 4th and 10, ending Falcons' last chance with 2:02 to go

3:00 - RB Matt Forte picks up a first down for Bears on last play before 2-minute warning (Lions were out of timeouts, and Bears held on to win 26-24 to stay alive in playoff race and now need Vikings to lose to Packers)

3:01 - It's over at Atlanta - Falcons lose to Bucs 22-17, their 1st home defeat of the season

3:16 - Final from Cincinnati - Bengals come back to defeat Ravens 23-17, finish tied for 1st with Ravens at 10-6; Saints' game, as usual, will be the last to finish - still 3:27 to go

3:22 - DeAngelo Williams runs for 11-yard gain and goes over the 200-yard mark for the game

3:26 - Packers S Morgan Burnett tackles Vikings RB Adrian Peterson on the first play from scrimmage at Minnesota

3:27 - Panthers win 44-38 and finish in 2nd place in NFC South, winning 3-way tiebreaker with Saints and Buccaneers

3:34 - RB Marshawn Lynch runs for a 2-yard gain on his first carry of the day for Seahawks against Rams

3:49 - S M.D. Jennings makes the tackle too late as Adrian Peterson scores on a 7-yard run to give Vikings a 10-0 lead
3:53 - Chiefs CB Brandon Flowers scoops up a fumble and returns it 64 yards, but Broncos QB Peyton Manning, the last man back, doesn't go down as he is blocked, causing Flowers to slow up, and he is tackled from behind at the 12-yard line

3:59 - Chiefs settle for a FG to cut Broncos lead to 7-3 early in 2nd quarter

4:08 - RB Jamaal Charles catch and run for gain of 15 to KC 49-yard line

4:09 - Two plays later Charles runs for 13 yards to pick up another 1st down at the DEN 35

4:12 - Chiefs' drive stalls again, and they miss the 34-yard FG attempt; still 7-3

4:17 - S Kendrick Lewis tackles TE Joel Dreesen at the KC 30 after a 12-yard reception (Broncos got the TD three plays later for 14-3 lead)
4:18 - 14-yard run by Rams RB Steven Jackson puts him over 1,000 yards rushing for the 8th season in a row

4:19 - Packers RB DuJuan Harris is tackled by S Mistral Raymond after an 11-yard run to the MIN 19-yard line

4:22 - TD by Rams gives them 7-3 lead at Seattle

4:25 - With a whole bunch of hair, Cardinals rookie G Senio Kelemete goes up to catch a deflected pass, outfighting 49ers DT Isaac Sopoaga for the ball, then runs after the catch for a 10-yard gain to pick up the 1st down

4:30 - Rams throw deep on 1st and 10, but CB Richard Sherman is on WR Brandon Gibson like a blanket - pass incomplete

4:33 - QB Aaron Rodgers has all day to throw, allowing WR Greg Jennings to get away from coverage by S Mistral Raymond for 3-yard TD catch; Packers finally on board, trail Vikings 13-7 with 4:01 remaining in 2nd quarter

4:34 - Rams rookie CB Janoris Jenkins breaks up pass intended for WR Sidney Rice on 2nd and 3 but is called for defensive holding penalty late in 2nd quarter

4:43 - Kendrick Lewis gets over to the sideline too late, allowing WR Eric Decker to make a juggling 16-yard TD catch; if Kendrick gets there a step earlier, he would have been able to knock pass away from Decker;  Broncos lead 21-3 with :10 to go until halftime

4:53 - all 6 games are at halftime

4:59 - coverage by LB Quentin Groves is not bad on deep route by TE Delanie Walker, but pass by QB Colin Kaepernick is perfectly thrown into end zone; Walker, however, drops what would have been a 29-yard TD (49ers settle for a FG three plays later and lead 10-6)
5:05 - Broncos RB Lance Ball breaks loose for 22-yard run on 2nd and 4 as Kendrick Lewis makes tackle at KC 40 to save TD

5:09 - Broncos get TD anyway as WR Demaryius Thomas makes spectacular leaping one-handed catch in back of end zone for 13-yard TD; Broncos now up 28-3

5:16 - 49ers WR Michael Crabtree beats good coverage by Pro Bowl CB Patrick Peterson and catches perfect pass on short crossing route for 7-yard TD; 49ers lead 17-6

5:18 - sideline shot of Steven Jackson with his helmet off - never get tired of seeing that

5:29 - Patriots rookie LB Dont'a Hightower recovers a Dolphins' fumble at the 1-yard line on 2nd and goal, preserving 21-0 lead late in 3rd quarter
5:37 - Damn, Jerron, you're going to complain about that? - Packers rookie S Jerron McMillian picks up an obvious defensive holding penalty while trying to cover TE Kyle Rudolph on 3rd and goal, and then argues with the official who threw the flag (a 2-yard TD catch by Adrian Peterson two plays later increased Vikings' lead to 27-17)

5:38 - Marshawn Lynch 8-yard reception to Rams' 10-yard line with 3:00 to go in 3rd quarter (a Michael Robinson TD on next play put Seahawks in front 13-10)
5:52 - After Packers close to within 27-24, a holding penalty by Mistral Raymond costs Vikings 10 yards on the kickoff return; Raymond, with helmet off, disagrees with the call as he heads to the bench

5:53 - On 3rd and goal from the SEA 9, Steven Jackson picks up 7 to the 2-yard line (Rams settle for a FG to tie the game at 13 with 11:23 to go)

5:58 - A pass intended for Cardinals WR Larry Fitzgerald is intercepted by CB Tarell Brown; 49ers safely in lead 27-6 with 5:57 to go

6:08 - DT Ian Williams tackles RB William Powell for 4-yard loss after a reception on 3rd and 20 - it's the 1st career TFL for Williams (but Cardinals got TD on 4th and 24 on a Michael Floyd 37-yard TD catch to cut 49ers' lead to 27-13)

6:09 - On 1st and goal from the 2-yard line, a holding penalty by OT Phil Loadholt moves Vikings back to the 12 - it's the 3rd penalty against Loadholt in the last 38 minutes

6:11 - replay is shown of Packers CB Tramon Williams scuffling with WR Jerome Simpson away from the play - Williams is called for illegal use of hands penalty, giving Vikings 1st and goal instead of having to settle for a FG 

6:15 - M.D.Jennings somehow fails to break up the pass on 3rd and goal as WR Michael Jenkins makes a 3-yard TD catch; Vikings back in front 34-27 with 7:54 remaining (said Jennings after the game, "It kind of went through my hands a little bit")

6:16 - sideline shot of Raiders CB Coye Francies, but I tuned in too late to know why (he had just blocked a punt)

6:20 - Marshawn Lynch fumbles the ball on 2nd and 2, but WR Golden Tate recovers for Seahawks and picks up the 1st down

6:20 - WR Denarius Moore 5-yard TD catch in a downpour to cut Chargers' lead to 24-21 (it was Moore's only reception of the game)
6:22 - Coye Francies has a chance to recover onside kickoff, but Chargers recover instead with 1:51 to go (Raiders were out of timeout, so Chargers ran out clock to win 24-21)

6:24 - DuJuan Harris runs for gain of 11 to the MIN 19 with 4:10 to go in 4th

6:26 - Packers score TD - game tied again 34-34

6:27 - Janoris Jenkins makes TD-saving tackle, but QB Russell Wilson picks up 15 yards for 1st and goal at the 4-yard line on first play after the 2-minute warning- Jenkins leaves with a shoulder injury

6:29 - On next play Marshawn Lynch takes it to the house for a 4-yard TD (but after further review, Marshawn was ruled out of bounds short of the goal line)
6:32 - Rather than give ball to Lynch again, Russell Wilson scores the 1-yard TD run, and Seahawks lead 20-13 with 1:39 remaining

6:39 - Adrian Peterson uses stiff-arm to elude LB Erik Walden, leaving Tramon Williams to make the tackle at the GB 41 after a 7-yard run; Vikings almost in FG range

6:41 - S Earl Thomas comes free on blitz up the middle and hits QB Sam Bradford as he throws - ball goes beyond line scrimmage and luckily for Rams falls incomplete
6:42 - Vikings in FG range for sure now - 25-yard run by Peterson as Morgan Burnett makes tackle at 11-yard line - Peterson now just 9 yards short of setting new NFL record for yards rushing in one season, but with just :03 on the clock, there's not enough time to give him one more carry

6:43 - On 4th and 10 Richard Sherman gets 8th INT of season with :33 to go to seal victory for Seahawks

6:44 - The kick is good - Vikings win 37-34 to clinch playoff birth, knocking Bears out of playoffs and dropping Packers from #2 to #3 seed in NFC

7:25 - not happy to find out that WR/KR Brandon Banks and S DeJon Gomes are both  inactive for Redskins' game against Cowboys

7:31 - Cowboys vs. Redskins for NFC East title underway as Dallas WR Dwayne Harris takes opening kickoff 17 yards before being tackled at 15-yard line

7:35 - Dwayne Harris follows good blocking on 28-yard punt return to the 27-yard line

7:37 - Cowboys fail to take advantage of field position as QB Tony Romo throws INT trying to hit ex-dread WR Kevin Ogletree

8:02 - Dwayne Harris muffs a fair catch but recovers at the 11-yard line

8:09 - Wide open over the middle on 3rd and 6, Dwayne Harris makes the catch and picks up 25 yards before being tackled at Washington 49-yard line
8:18 - Eight plays later Cowboys catch big break as Romo hits TE Jason Witten for 9-yard TD catch, but play should not have counted because the play clock expired well before the ball was snapped - don't know how refs missed it - Cowboys take 7-0 lead with 7:59 to go in 2nd quarter

8:28 - Redskins pull even on 17-yard TD run by rookie RB Alfred Morris (who btw had dreads for at least one season while he was in college at FAU)

9:24 - R-G-3 10 yards to the house - Redskins lead 14-7 with 3:10 to go in 3rd quarter

9:43 - Another TD run by Morris increases lead to 21-10

9:56 - 39-yard punt return by Dwayne Harris to 31-yard line comes to an end when P Sav Rocca grabs his facemask, horsecollar, and dreads - penalty moves ball to 16-yard line

10:01 - After 10-yard TD catch by Ogletree on 3rd and 4, Harris makes the catch for the 2-point conversion - Cowboys pull within 21-18 with 5:50 remaining
10:09 - Another Tony Romo moment for Cowboys fans as he throws killer INT with 3:00 to go. For all the good things he has done for the Cowboys, it's fascinating how he always seems to come up with that one play that ruins the season. Cowboys fans couldn't have been surprised when he did it again here

10:21 - Morris puts Cowboys away with 1-yard TD on 3rd and goal, making it 28-18 with 1:09 to go

10:24 - Dwayne Harris injured after returning kickoff 20 yards to 26-yard line - no word on what the injury was

10:28 - It don't matter what the injury was because Cowboys' season is over; Redskins win 7th in a row to clinch NFC East crown


With the regular season finished, roster moves now become even more frequent than they were during the season. But to remain consistent, from now on, for teams that did not make the playoffs I'll list players that were on the roster as of Week 17. Rosters are to date for the teams still playing.

Not so long ago this was a team with no dreads at all, but Texans lately have been increasing their number of players with dreads, with help from both the inside (Roc Carmichael and Kevin Dobbins began growing dreads after joining the team) and the outside (Derek Newton (photo below) and Keshawn Martin were selected in the last two drafts). Martin's TD in Week 11 was the 1st TD by a Texan with dreads since Dunta Robinson's pick 6 in 2006.
ACTIVE: CB Roc Carmichael, WR Keshawn Martin, OT Derek Newton
INACTIVE: LB Kevin Dobbins (just went on IR yesterday - he'll miss the playoffs)

9 players with dreads on the roster and all with sick dreads (outstanding!), but only 5 are active, and none of them is a star player. The longest dreads belong to Ricardo Mathews (photo below), who gave us a scare recently when his dreads 'disappeared' for a couple of weeks. Not to worry though - he still has them. I think what he did was he pulled a Lennel Elmore and folded his dreads in half up under his helmet, keeping them hidden entirely. LB Mario Harvey a special teams demon and plays some on offense as a blocking FB in short yardage situations. Deji Karim, signed in Week 15, scored the only TD - on a kickoff return last Sunday.
ACTIVE: S Sergio Brown, CB Josh Gordy, LB Mario Harvey, RB Deji Karim, DT Ricardo Mathews
INACTIVE: WR Kris Adams (PS), CB Marshay Green (PS), RB Robert Hughes (IR), DT Drake Nevis (IR)
I guess it was inevitable that when the N.Y. Giants cut LB Greg Jones at the end of training camp he would end up with the Jaguars, just so they could have 2 Greg Joneses with dreads. The big news here is all about Maurice Jones-Drew. Anticipation grew when he showed up just before the season began (after holding out throughout training camp) with his hair growing. Sure enough, he converted to dreads (!) in Week 9, bringing back the dreads he hasn't had since 2005, when he was in college at UCLA. Not surprisingly though (for a holdout) he got injured early the season and wasn't in uniform for the final 10 games of the season. Hopefully he'll still have the dreads for next season. Rashean Mathis' dreads (photo below) are as awesome as ever, but as a player he was terrible this season (he's never looked worse). He had 0 INT for the first time in his career. If Jaguars had been even halfway decent instead of 2-14, he probably would have been cut. Yes, this was his first season back after recovering from a torn ACL; and yes, he wasn't at 100% during the 2nd half of the season due to a groin injury. But for real, if Rashean wants to be in the league next year, he's going to have to find a way to stay healthy and to play drastically better than this year or he won't make it past training camp. Isaiah Stanback, signed in December, possibly could challenge Mathis for longest dreads on the team; but we'll never know because he's kept his dreads reduced the last couple of season. Unable to recover from repeated concussions suffered last season, LB Clint Session was cut. For his sake, hopefully his career is over.
ACTIVE: WR Mike Brown, FB Greg Jones, DE Austen Lane, CB Rashean Mathis, G Uche Nwaneri, WR Isaiah Stanback
INACTIVE: LB Greg Jones (IR), RB Maurice Jones-Drew (IR), S Dwight Lowery (IR)

Once upon a time the Titans had a sick secondary, featuring Lamont Thompson, Reynaldo Hill, and a young Adam Jones (back when he was still Pac-Man); but these days the only DB with dreads is Michael Griffin. Griffin along with Quinn Johnson share the honor of having the sickest dreads on the team. Chris Johnson is one of the best players in the league; but oh, those dreads (or should I say oh, no). You know, to keep your dreads looking nice and neat and to keep them from getting all tangled together, you have to help them along a little bit with some kind of maintenance from time to time as they get longer. But it looks like CJ (photo below) skipped that part. Actually some people want their dreads to look like that; so, to each his own. I'm not going to criticize. But remember, I'm grading according to my own bias, and the Titans' grade would be better if CJ's dreads looked better. OT Byron Stingily and S Jordan Babineaux now on the ex-dread list.
ACTIVE: S Michael Griffin, RB Chris Johnson, FB Quinn Johnson, DT Sen'Derrick Marks
INACTIVE: RB Darren Evans (IR)

1. I don't remember seeing a kickoff return TD quite like the one Colts RB Deji Karim had during 3rd quarter against Texans. Karim runs untouched right up the middle of the field 101 yards to the house, getting past the last man already at the Colts' 27-yard line as CB Josh Gordy easily blocks K Shayne Graham out of the way. Karim had a simple straight-ahead sprint the final 70 yards for the TD to give Colts the lead for good at 21-16. It was Deji's 1st career TD.

2. A stiff-arm from RB Arian Foster knocks the helmet from the head of sick DT Ricardo Mathews but doesn't keep Mathews from making the tackle for no gain at the Texans' 15-yard line during 2nd quarter. It was Ricardo's only tackle in the game. He also had a PBU. Texans continued their streak of futility in Indianapolis, falling to 0-11 all time on the road vs. Colts, losing this one 28-16.

3. 49ers CB Tarell Brown reaches from behind to knock a pass away from WR Larry Fitzgerald on 3rd and 3 during 2nd quarter at San Francisco. It was another empty day for Fitzgerald, who finished with 2 catches for 13 yards. That's the 7th time this season he has had fewer than 30 yards receiving in a game. Cardinals finished at 5-11 after a 4-0 start, dropping this one to 49ers 27-13.

4. Ravens LB Josh Bynes tackles RB Brian Leonard for a 3-yard gain on a reception during 2nd quarter at Cincinnati. Bynes led the Ravens with 9 tackles (3-6) in their 23-17 loss to Bengals. Both teams finished tied for 1st place in AFC North at 10-6, but Ravens win the tiebreaker thanks to a better record in division games. Bengals also make playoffs as a wild card.

5. Titans rookie WR Kendall Wright makes the catch of a short pass in front of CB Rashean Mathis on 3rd and 3 then breaks the attempted tackle by Mathis and picks up 36 yards during 4th quarter at Nashville. The drive ended four plays later with a sack on 4th down. Even with this 36-yard gain, Titans were dominated in total yards by Jaguars 375-221. But Titans still won easily. In an astonishing span of 4 minutes 45 seconds late in 2nd quarter and early in 3rd, Titans scored 4 TD - 2 punt returns to the house and 2 pick-6 TD - turning a 14-7 deficit into a 35-14 laugher. Jaguars finish a worst-ever 2-14 with the 38-20 defeat.

6. CB Josh Victorian, who made his NFL debut in Week 14 after spending most of his first two seasons on practice squads, makes the tackle after a catch by Browns WR Josh Gordon during 1st half at Pittsburgh. Victorian finished the game with 4 tackles (4-0). 

7. With Browns trailing by 7 midway through 4th quarter, rookie WR Travis Benjamin makes the catch on 2nd and 10 at the CLEV 48-yard line in front of CB Cortez Allen  for what looked like would be a 13-yard gain. Benjamin went down after making the catch but wasn't touched, so he got back up .....

8. ..... but before he had a chance to do anything, he is stripped of the ball by Allen .....

9. ..... LB LaMarr Woodley then arrives at the scene and pushes Benjamin out of the way to keep him from recovering his fumble ......

10. ..... Benjamin doesn't bother to give chase as Allen gets the recovery and returns it 21 yards to the 27-yard line, setting up a short TD drive. It was the 1st fumble of the season for Benjamin, who finished the day with a season high 4 catches for 43 yards in the Browns' 24-10 defeat ...... When it was the Browns who drafted him, I wondered how Travis, who had played his entire HS and college career in South Florida, would deal with the late-season cold weather; so I'm very pleased to see him on the field without long sleeves. He finished his rookie season with 3 TD and it appears he's on his way to having a successful NFL career.

11. Packers RB DuJuan Harris looks to get past LB Erin Henderson as he carries the ball at Minneapolis. DuJuan had the best game of his career so far, finishing 70 yards rushing on 14 carries and 2 catches for 17 yards. But Packers lost to Vikings 37-34 to drop to the #3 seed in the NFC and will not get a 1st round bye, instead playing a rematch with the Vikings in a game that will kick off in a few hours from now.

12. Redskins P Sav Rocca could have been called for a facemask penalty and a horsecollar penalty as he does whatever it takes (including grabbing dreads) to get Dwayne Harris stopped on a punt return during 4th quarter. The 39-yard return and 15-yard penalty set up a very short TD drive.

13. Dwayne Harris needs crutches (and later was carted off) after the game after being injured on a kickoff return late in 4th quarter. He suffered a sprained ankle. Harris finished with 73 yards on 4 kickoff returns (not good), 78 yards on 3 punt returns (excellent), 1 catch for 25 yards and a catch for a 2-point conversion. And he'll have plenty of time to get that ankle healthy because Cowboys season came to an end with disappointing 28-18 road loss to Redskins. 

14. RB Jacquizz Rodgers trudges off after Falcons suffer their 1st home loss of the season. He finished with 5 rushes for 28 yards and 8 receptions for 50 yards in the 22-17 loss to Tampa Bay. Come on Quizz, cheer up - you're 13-3 and the #1 seed for the NFC playoffs.

  • Marshawn Lynch - Seahawks - 18 carries for 100 yards rushing and 2 catches for 14 yards in 20-13 home W over Rams - Seahawks finish as NFL's only team to go undefeated at home
  • Vontaze Burfict - Bengals - capped off outstanding rookie season with season high 18 tackles (10-8) in 23-17 home W over Ravens 


Players with dreads didn't take very many to the house this week. There were just 5 TD overall. 2 of those came in the end zone at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, and they both were scored by the head dread for Week 17, Panthers RB DeAngelo Williams. Benefiting from the injury to teammate Jonathan Stewart, and benefiting from facing the porous Saints' defense, Williams earned player of the week honors for the 2nd time in the past 3 weeks, gaining 213 of his team's 530 total yards in a 44-38 victory that completed a season sweep of the Saints. DeAngelo rushed for a career high and new Panthers' record 210 yards on 21 carries and had 1 reception for 3 yards. Two of the carries went for touchdowns - a 54-yarder in the 3rd quarter to cut the Saints' lead to 24-20 and then a 12-yarder midway through the 4th quarter to cap a 28-0 run and extend Carolina's lead to 41-24. Williams also had two runs were he was tackled at the 1-yard line, including a 65-yard run in the 2nd quarter. For more details please click on the link below for a story from the Charlotte Observer:  

 After a huge 1,500-yard season in 2008, DeAngelo has seen his number of carries decrease these last 4 seasons. But it's good to see that when he's healthy, and when he gets the carries, he can still produce in a big way.

OTHER WEEK 17 TDs: Deji Karim (IND), Chris Johnson (TEN), Denarius Moore (OAK)

WEEK 17 INTs: Asante Samuel (ATL), Tim Jennings (CHI), Charles Godfrey (CAR), Michael Griffin (TEN), Richard Sherman (SEA)


With the 12 teams that have made the playoffs, we're guaranteed to have sick dreads on the field for each and every game this postseason. I'll be cheering for the Falcons to take it all (but I'll be really happy if they just take one). Of course, it wouldn't be so bad either if the Ravens defeated the 49ers in the Super Bowl (because that's what I predicted).
In round 1 ..... can the fading Texans stop the red-hot Bengals? ..... will the Packers get a clue how to contain Adrian Peterson? .... will the Colts' magic carpet ride continue against the Ravens? ..... and it's a battle of rookie QBs as the Seahawks make the long trip to Washington.

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