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Just Sayin': A look at NFL's dramatic final day

The SportsXchange

Running back Adrian Peterson cracked the 2,000 rushing yards on the season while leading the Minnesota Vikings to the playoffs. Indianapolis Colts coach Chuck Pagano made a dramatic return from leukemia treatment, guiding his team to a win. Philadelphia Eagles coach Andy Reid and San Diego Chargers coach Norv Turner might have spent their last day on the sideline, and the playoff picture took shape.

On a busy day in the NFL, the Sports Xchange looks at what writers around the country are Just Sayin':

Judd Zulgad, 1500ESPN.com

If there is one person who deserves the credit for the Vikings' turnaround it's Peterson. Without him, there is no way this team wins 10 games and there is no way they are playing next weekend in the first round of the playoffs.

There has been plenty of talk about Denver's Peyton Manning being the MVP, but the Broncos were a playoff team with Tim Tebow as their quarterback. Manning's comeback is a great story, but Peterson's is even better.

Bob Kravitz, USA TODAY

This is what Chuck Pagano dreamed about. This is what he dreamed about during those darkest of days at the Indiana University Health Simon Cancer Center, when his energy was sapped, the migraines were gripping his skull, the night sweats were ruining his sleep. This, along with his family and friends, is what kept him going, the knowledge, this vision, that when it was all over, he'd walk back into the light of Lucas Oil Stadium and coach his amazing football team.

Sunday, the dream was realized in all its Technicolor glory.

"What a day," Pagano said after another memorable Colts victory, a 28-16 win over the Houston Texans. He shook his head and smiled. "What a day."

Dan Wetzel, Yahoo! Sports

Pagano never said the word cancer after the game. He never said the word leukemia. He never said the word chemotherapy.

Circumstances. Issues. Challenges. He's a coach. He never wanted to hear those words, hear what they meant when the moments were bleak. He figures no one else does either. A circumstance can be dealt with. An issue can be overcome.

Mike Freeman, CBS Sports

There were two distinct emotions while watching Reid's possible final game. The first was sympathy. Reid is a historic figure who has been a towering presence in the NFL over the past decade or so. He went to five NFC title games (four straight) and coached in a Super Bowl. Reid is one of this league's greatest winners.

Reid was also a victim of his own huge ego, and in recent months and years we saw maybe the biggest of his problems. He sometimes cannot inspire players. That the Eagles, knowing this was likely Reid's final game, were so unceremoniously gutless and flat is a huge indictment of them and Reid.

Philadelphia's players didn't even try in a moment that meant so much.

Dan Graziano, ESPN.com

Where do the Eagles go now? Don't expect a replacement to be announced in the next couple of days. Oregon coach Chip Kelly is thought to be among the candidates, but he's coaching the Ducks in the Fiesta Bowl on Thursday and likely won't interview until after that game. The Eagles would be allowed this week to interview assistant coaches on other NFL teams whose seasons are over or who have bye weeks -- think Denver's Mike McCoy or Atlanta's Dirk Koetter -- but only (team owner Jeffrey) Lurie knows the short list for sure.

Phil Sheridan, Philadelphia Inquirer

With their atrocious farewell performance here Sunday, the Eagles removed any doubt about what needs to be done. It starts with the dismissal of Andy Reid, obviously, but it should not end there.

If Howie Roseman is going to remain in charge, as it appears, then he should start general managing immediately. Before the close of business Monday, Roseman should cut ties with a handful of the players most closely identified with this horrendous season.

Don't wait until February to release Michael Vick. Do it now. Don't hem and haw about whether to offer Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie a long-term deal. Wish him luck and tell him to enjoy the free-agent market. As for his partner, Nnamdi Asomugha, he should be given his walking papers, too.

Tom Krasovic, UT San Diego

Did Dean Spanos make the right move when he allowed A.J. Smith to fire Marty Schottenheimer and thus hire Norv Turner six years ago?

Only Spanos knows if he would've done it differently if given the chance. Spanos gave Smith and Turner six years together to reach a Super Bowl, but they didn't get there.

Here, following, are the number of playoff victories achieved by the Chargers as the Era of A.J.-Norv unfolded: 2-1-0-0-0-0.

Peter Schrager, Fox Sports

The San Diego Chargers might have been the best 7-9 team in NFL history this year. What do I mean? With their win Sunday over the Raiders, the Chargers have put up 350 points this season. It doesn't matter. 7-9 is 7-9. The fan base has had enough of Turner. A nice guy and a proven play-caller, sure. But a change is needed in San Diego. He'll be employed -- if he wants to be -- as a coordinator or quarterbacks coach somewhere next season.

Ian O'Connor, ESPNNewYork.com

Nobody's saying (the New York Giants missing the playoffs) was all (Eli) Manning's fault. The offensive line buckled more than it had in the past. The stars on the defensive front, Justin Tuck and Osi Umenyiora and Jason Pierre-Paul, were a shell of what they were across last year's charmed championship run, and when the Giants don't get to the other guy's quarterback, they don't win.

But Tuck, Umenyiora and JPP aren't face-of-the-franchise players, and they aren't working under $100 million contracts, either. (Just ask Osi.) Manning rightfully got most of the credit when the Giants won their two titles, so he deserves most of the blame for fumbling away a division his team should've locked away a month ago.

Mark Kiszla, Denver Post

You think Broncos Country is off-the-hook crazy with anticipation of what might happen next? Well, you should have been inside the Denver locker room after the game, where Von Miller wore a cowboy hat, work boots and a towel, while declaring: "There's a party in the shower!"

While the voting is not final for NFL most valuable player, (Peyton) Manning has about as much chance of beating out Minnesota running back Adrian Peterson for the award as the 36-year-old Denver quarterback had of tackling Chiefs cornerback Brandon Flowers, as he rumbled 64 yards with a fumble recovery in the first quarter.

"I didn't get the tackle?" protested Manning, in mock disbelief. No offense, Mr. Manning. But it's apparent you're the son of a quarterback, not a linebacker.

Jason Cole, Yahoo! Sports

Congrats to Detroit Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson, who finished the season with 1,964 yards, establishing the NFL record and breaking one of Jerry Rice's records in the process. However, it should be noted that Johnson, according to unofficial stats kept by the NFL, was targeted more than 200 times this season. That's believed to be the most times a receiver has been targeted in any season. Take nothing away from Johnson, who is an amazing player and a classy person. However, this record is partly a matter of force-feeding by the Lions, who also had quarterback Matt Stafford set the NFL record for attempts in a season (727).

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