Wednesday Morning QB (Week 16)

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The NFL Season has only one more week left until the postseason begins and many teams are beginning to take their spots in the playoffs. Not everything is for sure yet though as battles continue for playoff spots into the final week of the season. Other teams have already seen their hopes dashed for the playoffs and for the Super Bowl as more teams have been eliminated from the playoffs. One of these teams had a bitter-sweet week as the Pittsburgh Steelers would celebrate a franchise changing moment while being eliminated from the playoffs. The Steelers would not be able to capture a playoff spot in week 15 as they fell to the Cincinnati Bengals 13-10. It would eliminate the Steelers from the 2012 playoffs on a day where celebration would open the festivities. This Sunday was the exact day 40 years after the Immaculate Reception changed the fate of the Steelers and changed the NFL forever. It was December 23, 1972 when the Oakland Raiders and Pittsburgh Steelers would face off in the divisional playoffs at Three Rivers Stadium. The game would be a defensive battle between the perennial bad boys of the NFL in the Raiders and the beginnings of the Steel Curtain for the Steelers. The Steelers would strike first getting out ahead 6-0 in the 4th quarter as they hoped to end 40 years of struggles in Pittsburgh. Ken Stabler would take matters into his own hands though as he would run 30-yards for a TD to put the Raiders ahead 7-6 in the fourth quarter. It would come down to one last play for the Steelers if they were hoping to win the game and make it into the conference finals. Terry Bradshaw would drop back for a pass with 22 seconds left in the game. As Bradshaw attempted to avoid the pressure he would roll out to his right and launch a pass towards John “Frenchie” Fuqua. As the pass arrive Raiders cornerback Jack Tatum would time his hit perfectly hitting Fuqua and launching the ball backwards towards the line of scrimmage. It seemed like a lost cause as the play looked broken and it seemed that the Steelers would lose once again. Then out of nowhere running back Franco Harris would snatch the ball at his shoelaces and return the deflection for a TD. It would be the winning play of the game pushing the Steelers into the conference finals, a game that they would lose to the undefeated Miami Dolphins. The play was not without controversy though as the Raiders claimed that the ball had hit the ground when Harris caught it making it an incomplete pass. In the 1970s the sport was not what it has become today as the TV coverage was sparse. That meant that there were a lot less cameras and only a few angles to see the play. No angle would show the ball and where it was when Harris caught it leaving no proof that he caught the ball and no proof that it hit the ground. The play would stand in history as one of the most mysterious and important plays in NFL history. It would launched the Steelers into the spotlight and would be the spark to begin a dynasty that has created one of the biggest followings in the NFL. It would also lay in the Raiders’ minds forever as many still claim that Harris did not catch the ball. For the Raiders it was another chapter to their “us against the world” mentality only adding to their bad boy reputation. The play would also bring even more interest to the NFL as one of the most exciting plays in NFL history. The appeal of the play is not so much that it was a last-minute TD that won the game but instead was and remains a mystery as to whether or not he caught it. It has remained one of the most important plays in the history of the NFL and as the Steelers were eliminated from the 2012 playoffs fans held on to the memory of a play that began the legend of the Steelers.

 

Four Quarters
(Four Quick Thoughts on Week 16) 

Perfect Timing for Seattle
The Seahawks continue to be one of the strongest teams heading into the playoffs as they look to be the hottest team in the NFL entering the postseason after a win against the 49ers that has put them within striking distance of the West division title

Rookie Battle Heats up
The battle for Rookie of the year is only getting tougher as Russell Wilson has put his name in the hat alongside Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin as the three QBs will all be in a fight until the end of the season to determine the best rookie in the NFL

One Record Down
The pursuit of NFL records continues on as Adrian Peterson looks less likely to earn his record while Aldon Smith may not play to earn his record and JJ Watt stands closer than ever but it was Calvin Johnson who broke his record this week becoming the single season leader in receiving yards

The East Marches on
The NFC East has become the one of the best races in the NFL with no team in the division clinching a playoff spot as the race comes down to the last week with the winner taking the division and a spot in the playoffs and the losers eliminated from the postseason

 

NFL Standings

American Football Conference
Division Leaders:
1. z-Houston Texans (.800)
2. z-Denver Broncos (.800)
3. z-New England Patriots (.733)
4. z-Baltimore Ravens (.667)
Wild Card:
5. w-Indianapolis Colts (.667)
6. w-Cincinnati Bengals (.600)
Out of the Running:
7. Miami Dolphins (.467)
8. Pittsburgh Steelers (.467)
9. San Diego Chargers (.400)
10. New York Jets (.400)
11. Cleveland Browns (.333)
12. Tennessee Titans (.333)
13. Buffalo Bills (.333)
14. Oakland Raiders (.267)
15. Jacksonville Jaguars (.133)
16. Kansas City Chiefs (.133)

 

National Football Conference
Division Leaders:
1. *-Atlanta Falcons (.867)
2. z-Green Bay Packers (.733)
3. y-San Francisco 49ers (.700)
4. Washington Redskins (.600)
Wild Card:
5. y-Seattle Seahawks (.667)
6. Minnesota Vikings (.600)
In the Hunt:
7. Chicago Bears (.600)
8. Dallas Cowboys (.533)
9. New York Giants (.533)
Out of the Running:
10. St. Louis Rams (.500)
11. New Orleans Saints (.467)
12. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (.400)
13. Carolina Panthers (.400)
14. Arizona Cardinals (.333)
15. Detroit Lions (.267)
16. Philadelphia Eagles (.267)

*-Clinched Home Field
z-Clinched Division
y-Clinched Playoff Spot
w-Clinched the Wild Card

 

Key Scores:
Cincinnati Bengals 13 – 10 Pittsburgh Steelers
– Both teams needed the win to earn a playoff spot but it was the Bengals who took the win and earned their playoff spot while eliminated their division rivals from the playoffs as the Steelers came crashing down at the end of the year

Washington Redskins 27 – 20 Philadelphia Eagles
– Robert Griffin was back under centre for the Redskins who were looking for a win to get one step closer to a division title and they did just that fending off a late surge by the Eagles to win the game and remain in the top spot in the NFC East

Baltimore Ravens 33 – 14 New York Giants
– After weeks of being able to clinch their division the Ravens had yet to do so losing three games in a row but they would finally snap the streak and beat the Giants to clinch the AFC North and earn a home game in the playoffs

Seattle Seahawks 42 – 13 San Francisco 49ers
– The Niners looked to be a favorite to win the Super Bowl at the beginning of the season but they didn’t expect the Seattle Seahawks to come on late with and with a win on Sunday Night the Niners might not even win their division

 

Next Week:
Chicago Bears vs. Detroit Lions (December 30th; 1:00 pm EST)
– The Bears need this win if they hope to get into the playoffs and they have a good shot against the struggling Lions but the Bears will also need help from others in order to earn their playoff spot and if they lose there is no hope

Green Bay Packers vs. Minnesota Vikings (December 30th; 4:25 pm EST)
– The Vikings need this win to earn a wild card spot while the Packers are playing for the second place spot in the NFC and a first round bye but that is not all that is at stake as Adrian Peterson looks for a huge game, 200+ yards, to break Eric Dickerson’s single season rushing record

Arizona Cardinals vs. San Francisco 49ers (December 30th; 4:25 pm EST)
– The 49ers have had a bad end to the season as they have let the Seattle Seahawks into the division and now they take on the Cards with one last chance to clinch the division but only if they win their last game

Dallas Cowboys vs. Washington Redskins (December 30th; 8:20 pm EST)
– The Washington Redskins are now leading the race for the NFC East and one more win can lead them there as they take on the Cowboys in a win and you’re in situation unless they can clinch a spot in an earlier loss

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