- Eric Edholm at Shutdown Corner31 mins ago
GREEN BAY, Wis. — Maybe the Green Bay Packers players are too young to know who Willis Reed is. Perhaps comparing this game to Michael Jordan's flu in the NBA Finals isn't quite apt.
Whatever category Aaron Rodgers' return to the field on Sunday against the Detroit Lions following a calf injury — sterling prior to leaving, gutsy and effective after he came back from it — this much should be true: Rodgers is your league MVP.
Credit where credit is due for Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt and his amazing season, but another Wisconsin boy deserves the hardwhere following the Packers' 30-20 NFC North-clinching win over the Lions. That's Rodgers, who finished with the cleanest sheet possible — 25 passing touchdowns, another one rushing, and zero interceptions — at Lambeau Field this season.
That was made possible following Rodgers' calf-interrupted performance Sunday, in which he completed 17-of-22 passes for 226 yards and two touchdowns, with a 1-yard QB sneak for a score for good measure. Yeah, and that rushing touchdown came after Rodgers was knocked from the game.
- Jay Busbee at Shutdown Corner45 mins ago
ATLANTA, Ga. – Cam Newton was the last of the playoff-bound Carolina Panthers still on the Georgia Dome field, progressing through the gauntlet of two-question TV hits. Yes, the 34-3 win over Atlanta was an impressive victory; yes, they were ready for the playoffs, yes, yes, yes. Smiles all around.
Halfway around the lower edges of the Dome, fans in Carolina Blue stood three and four deep, foam claws and teal hats (and the occasional turncoat Falcons fan) everywhere. They shouted “WE WANT CAM!” back and forth, threatening to overwhelm his interviews.
The last question asked and answered, Newton could have walked toward the portal at the northeast corner of the Georgia Dome, the most direct route to his locker room. Instead, Newton took off at a dead sprint … in the opposite direction.
Newton ran straight toward the fans, starting at roughly the 50-yard-line and circling the inside of the Dome, his progress only slowed when he crashed into a retaining fence and surely stopped some Carolina hearts. He slapped as many hands as he could, and then threw his towel high into the stands. There were plenty of fans still there to grab at it.Sun, Dec 28Carolina34 - 3AtlantaGame Recap
- Kevin Kaduk at Shutdown Corner1 hr ago
The Miami Dolphins are headed toward their offseason golf dates carrying more baggage than just their clubs.
After finishing another playoff-free year with a loss to the lowly New York Jets, the Dolphins now have to deal with another issue from oft-upset Mike Wallace. The big-money wide receiver did not catch a pass in Sunday's 37-24 home loss and did not play in the second half. Wallace's absence was initially explained by coach Joe Philbin as a "coaching decision" but Jeff Darlington of the NFL Network later reported that Wallace committed arguably the worst sin in professional sports.
He quit on his own team after seeing another teammate score a touchdown:
So I’ve spoken to enough Dolphins sources to have a clear understanding of situation with Mike Wallace. Here it is in three quick tweets:
Wallace wasn’t “benched,” according to several sources. It wasn’t initially “coach’s decision.” Wallace told Philbin he didn’t want to play.
After Clay scored with 2:49 left in 1st half, Mike Wallace came off the field and told Joe Philbin he no longer wanted to play in the game.Sun, Dec 28NY Jets37 - 24MiamiGame Recap
- Frank Schwab at Shutdown Corner1 hr ago
There wasn’t much suspense left by the time the San Francisco 49ers announced that the team and coach Jim Harbaugh had mutually agreed to part ways.
In his postgame news conference, Harbaugh spoke of his four seasons with the 49ers in the past tense. When Craig Dahl intercepted a pass to seal the 49ers’ 20-17 win, he handed the ball to Harbaugh. Then the players gave Harbaugh a Gatorade bath.
The 49ers were once said to be seeking a Harbaugh trade, but that won’t be happening now. You can’t trade to a college team, after all. It has been widely reported Harbaugh is on his way to the University of Michigan.
“Jim and I have come to the conclusion that it is in our mutual best interest to move in different directions,” 49ers CEO Jed York said in a statement. “We thank Jim for bringing a tremendous competitive nature and a great passion for the game to the 49ers. He and his staff restored a winning culture that has been the standard for our franchise throughout its history. Their commitment and hard work resulted in a period of success that should be looked back on proudly by our organization and our fans. We wish Jim and his family all the best.”Sun, Dec 28Arizona17 - 20San FranciscoGame Recap
- Frank Schwab at Shutdown Corner2 hrs 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 Corner2 hrs 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 Corner2 hrs 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 Corner2 hrs 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.
Packers head coach Mike McCarthy admitted he did not see the play but heard from people with the team who did and relayed the message to him that they thought Suh's step was dirty.
"I didn’t see it live, I didn’t see it on the Jumbotron, but from what I’m told, I’m told it was ridiculous," a clearly agitated McCarthy said. "There’s no place for that, so that’s where I’m at with it. I don’t understand it, frankly."
- Jay Busbee at Shutdown Corner3 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 Corner3 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