- Frank Schwab at Shutdown Corner50 mins ago
For a brief moment on Sunday evening, the NFC playoff picture was turning upside down.
Green Bay Packers Aaron Rodgers was being carted off with a calf injury. The Seattle Seahawks were losing at home to the St. Louis Rams. The Arizona Cardinals were in a tight battle with the San Francisco 49ers. The only thing that was easy to figure was the Carolina Panthers would be the NFC South champs because the Atlanta Falcons got destroyed by them, 34-3, on Sunday.
The rest of the picture calmed down as the games went on. Rodgers returned in the second half and led the Packers to a 30-20 win and an NFC North title over the Detroit Lions, who haven't won at Lambeau Field since 1991. Seattle dug in and ground out a 20-6 victory against the Rams to claim the NFC West title and the No. 1 seed. The Cardinals, which needed a Seattle loss to have a shot at the NFC West crown, lost 20-17 San Francisco 49ers.
So now the road to the Super Bowl in the NFC goes through Seattle, and that's a daunting task for everyone else. Here are the NFC's playoff matchups:
No. 6 Detroit Lions (11-5) at No. 3 Dallas Cowboys (12-4) No. 5 Arizona Cardinals (11-5) at No. 4 Carolina Panthers (7-8-1)Sun, Dec 28St. Louis6 - 20SeattleGame Recap
- Eric Edholm at Shutdown Corner58 mins ago
GREEN BAY, Wis. — The Green Bay Packers earned the NFC's No. 2 seed in the playoffs after taking care of the Detroit Lions, 30-20, in an NFC North showdown in Sunday's season finale. But it wasn't easy, and Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers gave the crowd quite the scare.
Rodgers left the game late in the second quarter, aggravating the calf injury he suffered the week prior, and left the game for two series. Upon returning, he helped the Packers pull away with a stellar and gutsy performance, completing 17 of 22 passes for 226 yards and two touchdowns, and rushing for another score in the second half.
The Packers have earned a bye week and will face the highest-seeded playoff team remaining in the divisional round. Rodgers' injury is likely to be the main topic of discussion until the Packers next take the field.Sun, Dec 28Detroit20 - 30Green BayGame Recap
- Sam Cooper at Shutdown Corner1 hr ago
With the Seahawks up 20-6 over the Rams with 6:05 to go, safety Earl Thomas made sure his team would clinch the No. 1 seed in the NFC playoffs.
The Rams were deep in Seattle territory and quarterback Shaun Hill looked to Benny Cunningham out of the backfield. As Cunningham dove and reached for the goal line with the ball in his right hand, Thomas launched himself and chopped the ball out of Cunningham’s hand before he could break the plane.
The ball then popped free and went out of the end zone, resulting in a touchback that gave the ball back to Seattle.
Following that clutch play from Thomas, the Seahawks were able to run out the clock and seal the victory – their 12th of the season.
The win gives the Seahawks the No. 1 seed and a first-round bye heading into the playoffs. Thomas finished the game with a team-leading 12 tackles.
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- Eric Edholm at Shutdown Corner1 hr ago
GREEN BAY, Wis. — The Detroit Lions are having a hard time shedding their label of being a dirty team.
Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh appeared to step twice on the already gimpy leg of Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers — the first one looked accidental, but the second one, moments after the first, looked like Suh knew what he was doing.
Suh planted his leg on Rodgers' left leg, shifted his weight and stepped on it, which angered Rodgers, who pushed Suh out of the way. There was no flag on the play, but Sports Illustrated's Peter King reported on NBC that the league office will investigate the incident.
Rodgers left the game in the late second quarter after aggravating a calf injury. He returned to the game and turned a 14-14 tie game into a 28-14 Packers lead in a game Green Bay went on to win for the NFC North title.
The Lions came into this game without the services of center Dominic Raiola, who was suspended for this contest for stepping on Chicago Bears defensive tackle Ego Ferguson last week.
- Jay Busbee at Shutdown Corner2 hrs ago
So if you've ever wondered what it sounds like getting hit in the head by a Colin Kaepernick pass, wonder no longer. Kaepernick, on the run, flung up a throwaway, and boom! Right on the parabolic mic. Now imagine that was your skull.
It's been a season to forget for San Francisco, and when one of your most accurate throws all year takes out expensive audio equipment, well ... that's just the kicker. Offseason can't come soon enough.
And keep up with Jay over on Facebook, too.
- Frank Schwab at Shutdown Corner2 hrs ago
The Cleveland Browns finish the 2014 season as a total mess, with three of their key young players getting in trouble days before the regular-season finale.
And owner Jimmy Haslam said he's not going to tolerate it.
Receiver Josh Gordon was suspended for missing a walk-through practice on Saturday. Cornerback Justin Gilbert, who apparently has a habit of being late for team meetings, was deactivated for the season finale after being late for a team meeting. And the one that will draw the most headlines: Quarterback Johnny Manziel was a no show for treatment on his injured hamstring an Saturday morning after reportedly throwing a big Friday night party, and team security was sent to his home to find out where he was. Manziel was fined.Sun, Dec 28Cleveland10 - 20BaltimoreGame Recap
- Sam Cooper at Shutdown Corner2 hrs ago
With the Jets trailing the Dolphins 24-21 midway through the third quarter, Jets offensive coordinator Marty Morhinweg reached into his bag of tricks on a 3rd-and-5 play from the Dolphins’ eight-yard line.
It nearly cost him. Instead, a controversial call may have cost the Dolphins a win.
Mornhinweg lined up quarterback Geno Smith out to the right with running back Bilal Powell in shotgun in the Wildcat formation. With wideout Jeremy Kerley coming in motion from the left, Powell received the snap and pitched it to Kerley, who rolled right and threw to Smith. In Jets-like fashion, the ball appeared to deflect off Smith’s foot and into the arms of Dolphins’ safety Jimmy Wilson, who had nothing but open field ahead.
Instead, the play was whistled dead and ruled an incomplete pass.
Miami challenged the play, but the incomplete ruling was upheld. Instead of a pick-six for the Dolphins and a 10-point lead, the Jets were able to kick a 26-yard field goal to tie the game 24-24.
From then on out, it was all Jets.
- Eric Edholm at Shutdown Corner2 hrs ago
GREEN BAY, Wis. — Aaron Rodgers was helped off the Lambeau Field turf with what appeared to be an aggravation to his left calf injury, but he returned to the game in the middle of the third quarter and ultimately led the Packers to a 28-20 win.
Rodgers fell to the turf following a touchdown pass late in the second quarter that gave the Green Bay Packers at 14-0 lead over the Detroit Lions. He was carted into the locker room with just over two minutes to go before the half for further examination and was listed as questionable to return just prior to halftime.
The stadium fell silent when Rodgers went down and briefly erupted when he rose to his feet. As he was assisted off the field, Packers fans chanted, "MVP! MVP!"
Those chants returned when Rodgers came back into the game for the Packers' second offensive series of the second half, with the game then knotted at 14-all. Rodgers promptly led the Packers on a scoring drive after re-entering the game, hitting Randall Cobb on a touchdown pass with 3:33 left in the third quarter to give the Packers a 21-14 edge. Rodgers put the game on ice with 8:45 in the fourth quarter with a 1-yard plunge into the end zone.
- Jay Busbee at Shutdown Corner3 hrs ago
The New York Giants have had yet another atrociously awful season, finishing 6-10 and needing three wins in their final five games to manage even that. And yet there's something hopeful about New York, something that keeps you from writing them off like their divisional brethren the Redskins or their stadium-mates the Jets.
That something is Odell Beckham Jr., the rookie who could pull an eagle out of the sky. He did exactly that on Sunday with another gravity-defying, sticky-fingered Cirque-du-Soleil-worthy grab that you can see above. He also scored a 63-yard touchdown that ended with him running backward into the end zone. No big deal.Sun, Dec 28Philadelphia34 - 26NY GiantsGame Recap
- Eric Edholm at Shutdown Corner3 hrs ago
There would be no Brett Favre-like laydowns on Sunday with the all-time single-season sack record threatening to be broken.
In fact, it was quite the opposite.
With Kansas City Chiefs pass rusher Justin Houston upping his season total of sacks to 22 with a four-sack game against the San Diego Chargers in Week 17, Houston had a chance on the Chiefs' final defensive series to break or tie the all-time mark of Michael Strahan's 22.5.
Some say Strahan earned the mark in dubious fashion, with Favre appearing to fall into Strahan's waiting arms for the record-setting sack. In Houston's case, he was stripped of one final chance to break Strahan's mark.
But on the final play of the game, with the Chargers throwing on a first-and-goal play from the 10-yard line, down 19-7 with their playoff hopes all but gone, Houston — incredibly — was asked to drop in coverage on the game's final play.
Think about that: Four sacks in the game, all from the second quarter on, and Houston was asked to drop in coverage with a hallowed league record up for grabs. Neither Favre nor Strahan were seen in the Arrowhead Stadium coaches box calling in defensive signals.Sun, Dec 28San Diego7 - 19Kansas CityGame Recap