What’s up guys? So after a Week 17 filled with meaningless games and inflated stats, I decided that instead of doing a normal Tackle Tuesday where I talked about the past weekend, I’m going to do a Tackle Tuesday: End of the Season edition. I’ll give you the game, upset, and highlight of the season, along with regular season ending Power Ranking. Coming later this week, a first-round playoff predictions article and an End of the Season Awards article, keep a look out for those folks
Upset of the Season:
This game is only a couple of weeks old, and yes I realize that the Saints had already had their perfect season ended a week before, but think about how historically significant this game is. It was the first time that a team with at least 12 losses had beaten a team with at least 13 wins in NFL history. Now I know it happened a few years ago with the Colts, but they played their reserves in a meaningless game the entire time. This was completely different. The Saints were trying to lock up home-field advantage in the NFC, played their starters the entire game and were dominating the Bucs in the first half 17-0. Then suddenly everything changed. The Bucs somehow clawed their way to within a TD at 17-10 before Michael Spurlock sprung for a 77-yard punt return to tie it up with the time running out in the fourth quarter. This lead to a dramatic sequence in which the Saints missed a chip shot from 37-yards as time expired, the Bucs got the ball to start overtime and never looked back, ultimately winning it on a field goal and providing us with the Upset of the Season.
Game of the Season:
When I look back at the 2009 NFL season, there will be a lot of stories that stand out. The Pats fourth-and-two gamble, Brandon Marshalls 21 catch game, Favre playing in Lambeau, or many other highlights and memories we saw this season. But if one game will stay in my mind, it has to be when the Vikings visited the Steelers in Week 7 and we got what was easily the most entertaining fourth quarter of the season. Fast-forward to seven minutes left in the fourth, the Vikings trail the Steelers 13-10 but are in the red zone and looking to either tie or take the lead. Brett Favre drops back and FUHM-BAL! The ball is knocked out of his hands, scooped up and returned 77-yards by LaMarr Woodley to give the Steelers a 20-10 lead. Game over right? Wrong. On the very next kickoff, Percy Harvin catches the ball at his own 12, then races up the middle and hits the sideline untouched to break off an 88-yard touchdown return. Now we got ourselves a game, 20-17 Steelers. After the Vikings force a stop and get the ball back. Brett Favre once again leads them down field and into the red zone. Favre accounted for 334 yards in the air, but the biggest completion he made was for an 82-yard score, for the Steelers. After getting in to the red zone, Favre dropped back and felt some pressure, which caused him to dump the ball off to back-up Chester Taylor, only Favre threw it a little too hard, and Taylor took his eyes off of it a little too soon, and next thing you know a tipped ball is being returned by Keyaron Fox 82-yards the other way to seal the game, a 27-17 win for the Steelers, and thrilling game for us fans to watch.
Highlight of the Season:
Words don’t do this one justice so here’s the highlight from Week 7, which also happened to be Game of the Season, it speaks for itself.
End of Season Power Rankings:
1. San Diego Chargers (13-3) – What did Week 17 teach us? Even with their back-ups in for over the three quarters, the Chargers are unbeatable right now. Plain and simple they are playing the best football in the NFL and despite the seedings are the team to beat. Eleven straight wins that have all been impressive (unlike the Colts wins to start the season) and they have absolutely no weaknesses. Defense is there, one of the most accurate quarterbacks in the league running them, and easily the best special teams unit of any team remaining. As a Chargers fan I am downright giddy at the possibilities, yes I used giddy, and no I didn’t just jinx them.
2. Indianapolis Colts (14-2)- After a 14-0 start, the Colts basically quit the last two weeks and go into the AFC playoffs as the one seed with a 14-2 record. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m all for resting players to avoid injuries, especially after what happened to Wes Welker over the weekend, but how many times do you get a chance to go 16-0? I realize that they say it doesn’t matter to them, but let’s be real, even if they win the Super Bowl; they’re just another 14-2 team that won the Super Bowl. They had a chance to be the firs t19-0 team to win it, but threw that away, and as a football fan I’m kind of annoyed by that.
3. New Orleans Saints (13-3) – The other team that flirted with perfection this season, the Saints started 13-0 only to lose their final three games. They didn’t lose like the Colts however, they were going for the win in two of the three but just couldn’t get past the Cowboys or Bucs (both at home) and are kind of struggling going into the playoffs. The Saints can still score with anyone and beat a team by exploding for one quarter, but they are no longer a sure thing to even reach the NFC title game, let alone the Super Bowl.
4. Minnesota Vikings (12-4) – The team tabbed as number two in the NFC all season long, the Vikings too are struggling entering the playoffs. Prior to Sunday they had lost three of four and looked shaky in all facets of the game. But their dismantling of the suddenly defense-less Giants kind of shook off some of those issues, kind of. Their offensive line is still susceptible to getting hammered by a blitz-heavy team, and Favre is starting to look every bit his age. It will be interesting to see what happens to this team come playoff time.
5. Green Bay Packers (11-5) – Sleeper Alert! Sleeper Alert! Right now, the hottest team in the NFC is…. The Green Bay Packers? That’s right the team that nobody notices is chugging along, playing the best football of anyone in the NFC. Their only loss in the past two months was on the road to the Steelers on a last-second miracle touch down. If I had to make my picks today, I would not be surprised at all if I went with the Pack to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl. This shocks not only you but me as well people. Also, if the Eagles and Packers win this weekend, the world might just stop next week when Green Bay moves on to (wait for it, wait for it, and….. now!) play the Vikings and Brett “I-stabbed-your-entire-franchise-in-the-back-but-everyone-still-loves-me-and-it-makes-no-sense” Favre. Now that would be fun to see.