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NFL Week 16 Recap: Ryan Fitzpatrick, Chiefs highlight NFL action

The NFL Recap team goes over the Week 16 happenings and highlights, including Ryan Fitzpatrick, the Chiefs’ narrow victory, and much more!

NFL Week 16 Recap: Ryan Fitzpatrick, Kansas City Chiefs highlight NFL action

It’s Week 16 — time for the NFL Recap team to go over the happenings and highlights of all the action. We’ll start with the Kansas City Chiefs’ and Pittsburgh Steelers’ slim victories, and then take a look at some of the fallout from the weekend’s action, including the Tua Tagovailoa and Ryan Fitzpatrick interplay. We will also dole out Week 16’s Studs ‘n’ Duds including Andy Dalton and Mark Andrews.

NFL Week 16 Recap: Chiefs, Steelers have reasons to be afraid after narrow wins

kansas city chiefs

The Kansas City Chiefs clinched home-field advantage throughout the playoffs with their 17-14 win over the Atlanta Falcons in Week 16. The Pittsburgh Steelers halted a three-game losing streak and clinched the NFC North with their come-from-behind 28-24 win over the Indianapolis Colts. So everything is A-OK with the two conference frontrunners, and we can pencil them into the AFC Championship Game in a few weeks, right? Not so fast.

A pair of narrow wins by the Kansas City Chiefs and Pittsburgh Steelers, at the end of a month of general vulnerability by both teams, raised as many questions as they answered. And while NFL Recap still thinks one of these teams will represent the AFC in the Super Bowl, the conference playoff chase is suddenly tighter than ever.

Pittsburgh Steelers and Indianapolis Colts Recap

The Colts appeared to be in complete control of the game after taking a 24-7 lead and stopping the Steelers at the goal line midway through the third quarter. Then the Steelers came alive on both sides of the ball at once. 

Ben Roethlisberger, who looked like Father Time for much of the first half, connected with Diontae Johnson in the end zone for a 39-yard raindrop late in the third quarter.

Roethlisberger and Eric Ebron capped an early fourth-quarter drive (built mostly out of a pair of pass interference penalties) with a short touchdown. Roethlisberger then used a pump fake to freeze the Colts secondary and delivered a third touchdown strike, this time a gorgeous 25-yarder to JuJu Smith-Schuster. 

Week 16 NFL Highlights | Steelers start slow vs. Colts

Meanwhile, T.J. Watt, Stephon Tuitt, Cameron Heyward, and Avery Williamson took turns getting into the Colts’ backfield and harassing Philip Rivers into mistakes. Mike Hilton intercepted Rivers to stop one late comeback attempt, and a final Colts drive stalled when Rivers could not convert 4th-and-8 at the Steelers 33-yard line.

The Pittsburgh Steelers victory clinched a playoff berth and positioned them as the likely second seed in the AFC entering an important (for both teams) Week 17 matchup with the Cleveland Browns.

Kansas City Chiefs and Atlanta Falcons Recap

It was another one of those games where the Chiefs looked like the class genius who forgot there was an exam, didn’t study, and showed up expecting to get an A-plus based on sheer genius. Patrick Mahomes was off for much of the first half, and the gameplan was as needlessly complicated as ever.

Seriously, Andy Reid and company. They’re the Falcons. You can beat them by running the ball and waiting for them to do something stupid.

Tell me if you’ve heard this one before

The Falcons led 14-10 with 4:33 to play when the time came for the natural order of the cosmos to reassert itself. Mahomes led a crisp drive that ended with a Demarcus Robinson touchdown. Matt Ryan then drove the Falcons into field goal range and searched for ways to lose the game.

He tried to get sacked out of field goal range and failed. He tried to get strip-sacked and failed (his arm was moving forward). And he tried to throw an interception but failed. Finally, the Falcons sent Younghoe Koo out to lose the game with a 39-yard chip shot field goal attempt. The kick appeared to be on target until someone yanked an invisible bungee cord and sent it sailing wide right.

The Chiefs are now on a 10-game winning streak. By clinching the first seed in the playoffs, they rendered next week’s game against the Los Angeles Chargers meaningless. That gives them a few weeks to rest some hobbled starters, most notably tight end Travis Kelce.

Reasons why Kansas City Chiefs fans should be afraid

Andy Reid should get a mild electrical shock every time the Chiefs run some variation of the “Wing T formation — everyone in the backfield does a little supermodel twirl, direct snap to Darrel Williams, pivot pitch to Sammy Watkins, option pass to Patrick Mahomes” crazy cakes play concepts they concoct while drinking moonshine (alcohol-free eggnog with extra nutmeg, in Reid’s case) and watching footage of 1930s Rose Bowls.

Week 16 NFL Highlights | Chiefs dodge a bullet, Falcons miss field goal

The Kansas City Chiefs have won their last seven games by a total of 27 points. Their offense outsmarts itself. Their defense plays up or down to the level of competition. It’s the perfect recipe for playoff disappointment. 

Reasons why Pittsburgh Steelers fans should be afraid

Roethlisberger had one of those games that look spectacular on the highlight montage and stat sheet but not nearly as good when examined more closely. He had passes batted at the line, floated near-interceptions into the middle of the field, and bounced one third-down pass four yards in front of its intended target. The Steelers caught a few late-game breaks when off-target Roethlisberger passes led to borderline pass interference fouls.

Week 16 NFL Highlights | Roethlisberger looks off

The Colts outgained the Steelers 217 yards to 93 in the first half and dictated terms on offense except for one Watt strip-sack and Hilton recovery. The Steelers live or die by big plays on both sides of the ball. When they don’t get enough of them, they can lose to any team in the NFL, even Washington or the Cincinnati Bengals.

Reasons why Kansas City Chiefs and Pittsburgh Steelers fans can relax (a little)

The Colts had the Steelers in position for a knockout blow and could not seal the deal. The Cleveland Browns lost to the Jets. Yes, the Browns lost their entire receiving corps to reserve list protocols, but they would have been able to beat the Jets by running the wishbone. The Dolphins did not look like much of a threat when the Las Vegas Raiders gave them all they could handle on Saturday night. AFC Wild Card Weekend looks like glorified cannon fodder.

The formidable duo

That leaves the Buffalo Bills and Tennessee Titans, both of whom will play after this Week 16 NFL Recap segment goes to press. Both are known threats at this point in the season. The Steelers beat the Titans but lost to the Bills. The Chiefs beat the Bills. No one truly looked outclassed by anyone else in any of those head-to-head matchups.

Like it or not, Kansas City Chiefs and Pittsburgh Steelers fans, the AFC is more of a four-team race than a two-team race. That may cause some anxiety in Pittsburgh and Kansas City come mid-January. Yet, it will make things more interesting for the rest of us.

NFL Week 16 Recap: Breaking down the NFC playoff bottom feeders

NFL Recap: Breaking down the NFC playoff race bottom feeders with current standings

We know the New Orleans Saints, Green Bay Packers, Seattle Seahawks, and Tampa Bay Buccaneers have clinched playoff berths and are stalwarts in the NFC playoff race. We know that Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers, Russell Wilson, and Tom Brady know how to handle themselves when they reach the postseason, giving all four teams a legit chance to reach the Super Bowl. But what about the NFC playoff bottom feeders of the standings in this race? The Arizona Cardinals, Chicago Bears, Los Angeles Rams, and huddled masses of the NFC East.

Do any of them pose a real threat to the top contenders and their proven quarterbacks? NFL Recap surveyed the field of lingering playoff hopefuls at the end of Week 16 and determined that some of them could create havoc by winning a playoff game or two. And the most dangerous teams among the also-rans just might surprise you.

NFC Playoff Race 2020: The fringe teams not in the NFC East

Arizona Cardinals (8-7)

The Cardinals’ run defense allowed 227 yards in Saturday’s 20-12 loss to the San Francisco 49ers. They have allowed 100-plus yards in five of their last six games. Both the Cardinals’ offense and defense are terrible in third-and-long situations.

Kyler Murray often looks like he is wearing roller skates when slipping and sliding when moving around the pocket. Worst of all, Kliff Kingsbury’s offense lacks the personality it had last year and the start of this year. Opponents caught up to the team’s intricate screen concepts, and Kingsbury responded by just becoming more conventional and predictable.

The Cardinals’ résumé

The Cardinals’ signature victories in 2020 have been wild down-to-the-wire shootouts against the Seattle Seahawks and Buffalo Bills. They’re built to win NFL Blitz 2000-style games where Murray scrambles around and lofts bombs to DeAndre Hopkins while their defense tries to string a few sacks and turnovers together.

The Cardinals are like the junior varsity Chiefs in that respect. While they could surprise someone in the postseason, they’re more likely to be exposed after the NFC playoff race dust settles as not being ready for the spotlight against Packers, Seahawks, and Buccaneers teams who know how to live and not die by the big play, or the disciplined, ball-controlling, clock-munching Saints. 

Chicago Bears (8-7) 

Mitch Trubisky has completed 72.4% of his passes for seven touchdowns and just two interceptions in four December games. Yes, it has helped that the Bears faced the Detroit Lions, Houston Texans, and Jacksonville Jaguars in various stages of quit mode, plus the reliably-mediocre Minnesota Vikings.

And yes, anyone who thinks Trubisky now deserves a franchise quarterback contract (see: Adam Schefter’s ESPN report) needs to stop chasing the edibles down with mulled wine. Interestingly, the Bears offense looks balanced and semi-dangerous as the playoffs approach, and their defense ranked seventh in Football Outsiders’ DVOA before shutting down the Jacksonville Jaguars in a 41-17 rout.

The Bears’ résumé

The Bears are by far the best team and most deserving playoff participant on this list, which is scary because they are not very good. They beat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 5 and took the New Orleans Saints to overtime in Week 8, indicating that they can force a contender to play their grimy brand of football in the postseason. 

And heck, maybe Trubisky will prove that he’s the next Ryan Tannehill in the playoffs. But please don’t put money on that despite their current status in the NFC playoff standings

Los Angeles Rams (9-5)

The Rams need to either beat the Cardinals or hope the Bears lose to the Packers in Week 17. Both scenarios are quite possible, even with Jared Goff’s availability in doubt due to a thumb injury. It should not have been this hard for them, though. These Rams would be among the Saints/Packers NFC contender tier if not for turnovers, special teams woes, and an inability to play well from behind.

The Rams’ résumé

The Rams split with the Seahawks and beat the Buccaneers this season. They won’t be helpless if they reach the NFC playoffs — their current standing isn’t so bleak.

But even if Goff is healthy, once an opponent takes a 10-point lead on them, they’re done. The same cannot be said of the Cowboys or Cardinals, or even the Bears or Washington, who are always one big defensive play away from making things interesting.

And if the Rams are stuck with obscure backup John Wolford for the rest of the year, then nothing else really matters. 

NFC Playoff Race 2020: The fringe teams in the NFC East

New York Giants (5-10)

There is absolutely nothing playoff-worthy about the Giants, who have lost their last three games by a combined score of 73-26. But the Giants swept Washington this season, so here we are. They will win the NFC East in the event of a three-way 6-10 clusterfart – which, we all know, is entirely possible. If the Giants do reach the playoffs, look for them to be double-digit home underdogs in the opening round. 

Dallas Cowboys (6-9)

The real NFC contenders will be rooting hard for the New York Giants next week. The Washington Football Team has a dangerous pass rush and nothing else, and the Giants are a joke. However, the Cowboys’ receiving corps of Amari Cooper, CeeDee Lamb, and Michael Gallup can pressure any defense in the league. That’s especially now that Andy Dalton has settled in, and Ezekiel Elliott isn’t fumbling twice before halftime anymore. 

Do you think Brees can win a shootout the way he is currently playing? Or Wilson for that matter? Or Brady, when facing an opponent whose coaching staff hasn’t been filled out by groundskeepers and social media managers, and is also not the Atlanta Falcons?

The Cowboys are perfectly capable of a first-round home upset, if not more, beyond the NFC playoff race.

Washington Football Team (6-9)

Now that Dwayne Haskins’ maskless strip club antics are out of the bag, NFL Recap no longer has to be subtle and polite. Haskins hasn’t focused or prepared the way a young quarterback must. It has been a problem in Washington for a while. 

Haskins may not be a complete lost cause, but he needs a change of scenery at the least. There will be no coming back from his dreadful performance and benching in favor of Taylor Heinicke in a 20-13 loss to the Carolina Panthers that could have clinched the NFC East for Washington.

Alex Smith anyone?

All eyes are now on Alex Smith. He might end up wearing a Stark Industries exo-suit onto the field in Week 17 against the Philadelphia Eagles. Robo-Smith is a barely-capable quarterback at this point, but all Washington’s defense next week is for the offense to not commit self-sabotage.

The Eagles have already reached the point where they are politely pretending not to notice Jalen Hurts’ significant fumbling problem because they are too deep in their quarterback controversy to climb out now. (Also, Carson Wentz had a major fumbling problem). If Smith can limit turnovers and lead a few field goal drives, Washington wins the NFC East. 

If they reach the playoffs, Washington could beat the Saints the way they beat the Pittsburgh Steelers (wallop the geezer quarterback, generate a wisp of offense) or cause trouble again in a Seahawks rematch (dominate the line of scrimmage, pick the Seahawks defense apart with micro-passes). Neither scenario is likely, but both are possible. We’re left wondering just how good Washington could have been with even mediocre Trubisky/Dalton-caliber quarterback play. 

NFL Week 16 Recap: The Tua Tagovailoa/Ryan Fitzpatrick non-controversy has a unique historic precedent

The Tua Tagovailoa/Ryan Fitzpatrick non-controversy has a unique historic precedent

Wondering how the Miami Dolphins’ Tua Tagovailoa / Ryan Fitzpatrick don’t-call-it-a-quarterback-controversy will play out? So is NFL Recap. We don’t have a crystal ball or the ability to peer into head coach Brian Flores’ mind, but we know that football history has a habit of repeating itself. So grab some eggnog, curl up by the fireplace, and enjoy this tale about the strange case of WoodStrock and the early 1980s Dolphins’ starting QBs.

NFL Recap Week 16: David Woodley, Don Strock, and the 1982 Miami Dolphins Super Bowl run

Once upon a time, there was a young quarterback named David Woodley. Woodley was a scrambling eighth-round pick from LSU who replaced fading future Hall-of-Famer Bob Griese in 1980. Woodley was talented but erratic, and head coach Don Shula developed a habit of pulling him in favor of veteran backup Don Strock when things weren’t going well.

Related | Dolphins no-name defense has made a name for itself

Strock led two fourth-quarter comebacks in relief of Woodley as the Dolphins went 11-4-1. Shula then yanked Woodley after an interception, two sacks, and a fumble in the first quarter of the playoff game against the San Diego Chargers. Strock threw four touchdowns in a back-and-forth game the Chargers ultimately won 41-38, one of the greatest games in NFL history.

Woodley remained the starter in 1982, with Strock as his save specialist. The 1982 season was just nine games long due to a lengthy midseason strike. Strock relieved Woodley in three of his starts, leading late-game comebacks in two of them.

The pattern continues into the playoffs

That season’s playoffs were a 16-team tournament. Woodley played well at the start of the tourney but threw three interceptions in a 14-0 AFC Championship game victory over the New York Jets.

Shula did not pull Woodley in that game. He did, however, insert Strock late in Washington’s 27-17 win in Super Bowl XVII. Woodley had completed just 4-of-14 passes for 97 yards, one touchdown, and one interception before being relieved.

Dan Marino enters the stage

The Dolphins drafted Dan Marino with the 27th overall pick in the 1983 NFL Draft. How Marino lasted that long is a story in itself. Amazingly, 46 QBs were taken before Marino in that first round. Woodley started the season, but Marino quickly overtook him, and the rest is history (the history books would be aware of his presence on a grand scale).

Sadly, Woodley descended into alcoholism after his NFL career fizzled, and he passed away in 2003. Strock backed up Marino for many years. The Dolphins returned to the Super Bowl in 1984 but lost to the San Francisco 49ers. They remained playoff contenders throughout the 1980s and early 1990s but couldn’t get over the proverbial hump.

What the past can teach us about the current Dolphins starting QB situation between Tua Tagovailoa and Ryan Fitzpatrick

Starter-reliever platoons at quarterback are unbelievably rare, which is why folks remember WoodStrock 30 years later. The fact that the arrangement lasted from Griese’s decline in 1980 through Marino’s rise in 1983 is also shocking to modern eyes.

The modern context of starting and backup QBs

Nothing like that can happen in this era of free agency and rookie contracts. Both quarterbacks would either demand more money or a chance to go elsewhere. FitzTua will almost certainly be broken up this offseason for a variety of reasons, and you don’t need the NFL Recap of Week 16 to tell you that.

Secondly, Strock did not play particularly well in his relief appearances. He threw four interceptions in a 1981 spot start and four more in a relief appearance in 1982 that the Dolphins lost to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. But the Chargers playoff effort gave him a Nick Foles reputation that could not have helped Woodley’s confidence.

Circling back to FitzTua

Ryan Fitzpatrick led a wild comeback in Saturday’s 26-25 win over the Las Vegas Raiders, but let’s get real. Myles Gaskin’s fourth-quarter touchdown catch was a mixture of great running and horrible defense after a routine throw. As gutsy as Ryan Fitzpatrick’s pass to Mack Hollins was while his facemask was being spindled, the Raiders left a receiver wide open.

Week 16 NFL Highlights | Ryan Fitzpatrick makes a ridiculous throw

The “Fitzmagic” storyline casts a long shadow that can hide the fact that — A) he has never, ever been a reliable starter; and B) the Dolphins’ primary objective this season is to develop Tua Tagovailoa, not lose to the Kansas City Chiefs in the playoffs.

WoodStrock does not detail the current Dolphins starting QB situation

Let’s not make too much of the similarities, however. Tua Tagovailoa is a much better prospect than Woodley was. A few mid-game benchings should not permanently obliterate his confidence. And Shula’s Dolphins proved in 1982 that a team can enjoy some success with a two-QB platoon in an unusual season (and 2020 is quite unusual).

Week 16 NFL Highlights | Myles Gaskin takes it to the house late in the 4th

But if Tua begins backsliding because he’s looking over the shoulder after each early-game mistake, Dan Marino won’t walk through the door to bail everyone out. Flores owes it to himself, the Dolphins, and Tua to keep his eyes on the big picture. So far in 2020, he’s taken his eyes off it twice.

Week 16 NFL Recap: What’s next for the Miami Dolphins?

Tua Tagovailoa will be the Dolphins starting QB in Week 17 with the playoffs on the line against the Buffalo Bills for “Squish the Fish” week in Orchard Park. Who gets the finish in that game is still TBD.

NFL Week 16 Recap: Andy Dalton, Mark Andrews headline Week 16’s Studs ‘n’ Duds

NFL Recap: Andy Dalton, Mark Andrews headline Week 16's Studs 'n' Duds

Andy Dalton has kept the Dallas Cowboys in the playoff chase. Mark Andrews has helped Lamar Jackson look like an MVP again. And while the New York Jets have lost the first pick in the 2021 NFL Draft to the Jacksonville Jaguars, they’ve regained a bit of their dignity in the bargaining. All this, plus some great offensive line play, terrible coaching decisions, and much more in the Week 16 edition of NFL Recap’s Studs ‘n’ Duds.

Stud: Andy Dalton, Quarterback, Dallas Cowboys

The Cowboys are on a three-game winning streak. Andy Dalton has thrown for 771 yards, seven touchdowns, and just one interception in those three games. On Sunday, Andy Dalton threw for 377 yards, three touchdowns, and a pick in the Cowboys’ 37-17 win over the Philadelphia Eagles. The Cowboys are now 6-9, and you know what that means: THEY ARE NFC EAST CONTENDERS, BABY.

Week 16 NFL Highlights | Dalton drops a beauty to CeeDee Lamb

Andy Dalton has proven that he can help a team as a veteran backup, spot starter, and possible mentor. Yet, Andy Dalton has not proven that he’s a future challenger or replacement to Dak Prescott. NFL Recap of Week 16 just felt the need to state that on the record before some narrative takes on a life of its own.

Duds: Interim head coaches who endanger their quarterbacks

Interim head coaches don’t make good long-term decisions because they hope to attract their next employer by winning a few late-season games at any cost. They also sometimes feel like they lack the authority to make big picture decisions.

That means interim coaches like Romeo Crennel of the Houston Texans and Darrell Bevell of the Detroit Lions are prone to leave franchise quarterbacks in meaningless games to take a beating instead of doing the right thing and protecting their team’s most important player.

Watson in Houston

Deshaun Watson suffered a strange and frightening arm injury when his throwing arm got caught in defender Sam Hubbard’s facemask late in the Texans’ 37-31 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals.

Yet, Watson returned to the Texans’ final series and was on the field for a “wacky lateral” sequence at the end of the game. That is just the sort of play where a banged-up quarterback might take another unnecessary shot. 

Stafford in Detroit

Matthew Stafford insisted on trying to play through multiple injuries on Saturday. Who was Bevell to tell him he could not? Stafford ended up picking up an all-new foot injury as a result of the 47-7 massacre at the hands of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

For good measure, he had to hop on one foot into the locker room after the injury. Granted, the Lions were practically being coached by members of the legal, accounting, and catering departments because most of what’s left of Bevell’s staff was in isolation. But even the assistant towel folder should have the authority to call for a golf cart for the franchise quarterback.

Stud: Mark Andrews, Tight End, Baltimore Ravens

Mark Andrews’ six-catch, 76-yard afternoon in the Baltimore Ravens’ 27-13 victory over the New York Giants doesn’t leap off the stat sheet. But Mark Andrews caught five of those passes for 69 of those yards in the first half when the Ravens built a 20-3 lead they could nurse for the rest of the game.

Andrews made a leaping 20-yard catch in traffic along the sideline to set up one Ravens field goal drive and ripped the ball away from a defender. He turned upfield for 25 yards to spark a second field goal drive, though Mark Andrews couldn’t quite haul in a Lamar Jackson paint-the-corner low fastball in the end zone. 

Week 16 NFL Highlights | Lamar Jackson connects with Dez Bryant

Mark Andrews has 22 receptions for 377 yards and two touchdowns in his last five games. He’s giving Jackson the security blanket over the middle that he needs to keep the Ravens offense multi-dimensional and help his team climb back into the Wild Card picture.

Dud: Doug Marrone, Head Coach, Jacksonville Jaguars

Marrone decided to start human turnover dispensary and midweek 7-on-7 drill Hall-of-Famer Mike Glennon over a healthy Gardner Minshew against the Chicago Bears. The results were predictable and embarrassing. Glennon threw two interceptions and failed to move the ball after a few early blips against his former team, resulting in a 41-17 Bears victory. 

Before you tankologists explain the 2021 NFL Draft order to NFL Recap, here’s what a head coach says if he’s slyly trying to lose games.

“Gosh, Minshew is important to the Jaguars moving forward, and we want to shut him down for the rest of 2020 to rest his hand injury, so this is a great opportunity to further evaluate rookie Jake Luton!”

Instead, Marrone said, “Duhhhhhh, I cannot tell the difference between a scrappy third-tier starter who generally keeps us competitive and a Little League pitching machine!” The Jaguars responded to Marrone’s decision with 10 penalties and began going through the motions in the second half. That’s not tanking; it’s sheer incompetence.

Stud: Jamison Crowder, Wide Receiver, New York Jets

Adam Gase can be accused of many things — about 25% of NFL Recap’s coverage this season has consisted of accusing Gase of many things — but tanking down the stretch is not one of them. Crowder made Sunday’s 23-16 upset of the Cleveland Browns possible with seven catches for 92 yards and one touchdown, plus a 43-yard pass to Braxton Berrios on a nifty trick play that will probably earn Gase (ugh) another decade as an NFL offensive coordinator.

The Jets have now lost any chance of getting the first overall pick. And that’s OK because trying to out-stink the Jaguars over the last few weeks just would not have been worth it. 

Dud: Rod Marinelli, Defensive Coordinator, Las Vegas Raiders

With the Miami Dolphins trailing 25-23 at their own 25-yard line with 19 seconds left and no timeouts, interim Raiders coordinator Rod Marinelli called what NFL Recap is 99.99% certain was a Tampa-2 defense.

Tampa-2 features four pass rushers, four defenders in short zones, two defensive backs in deep zones, and one defender racing up the middle of the field to join them. The primary weakness of Tampa-2 is that it leaves a gap between the zones along the sidelines about 20-25 yards downfield, exactly where a quarterback with no timeouts wants to throw if he hopes his receiver can get out of bounds near field goal range.

The secondary weakness of Tampa-2 is that it’s a defense that has been around since the late 1990s and can be easily diagnosed by a veteran quarterback, like Ryan Fitzpatrick.

The absolutely ridiculous conclusion to the Dolphins/Raiders game

You know what happened. Fitzpatrick found Mack Hollins for a 34-yard completion up the left sideline, Arden Key tacked on 15 yards by trying to unscrew Fitzpatrick’s skull to have a peek at his Harvard brain, and the Dolphins won on a game-winning field goal, knocking the Raiders out of the playoffs.

The Raiders would have won if Marinelli called something more appropriate like basic quarters coverage, which takes away the deep sideline.

They would also still be in the playoff hunt if Jon Gruden had not fired Paul Guenther on a short practice week before the Los Angeles Chargers’ loss and replaced him with an old Tony Dungy lieutenant who still thinks he’s coaching the 1997 Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

And now it’s time to go beyond Andy Dalton and Mark Andrews and ramp up for the NFL Recap’s Week 16 highlights and awards.

NFL Recap Week 16 Highlights: Defender of the Week

Don’t blame Chase Young for the Washington Football Team’s 20-13 loss to the Carolina Panthers. Young strip-sacked Teddy Bridgewater and recovered the fumble himself in what should have been a momentum-changing play.

Unfortunately, Washington settled for a field goal. Young also hit Bridgewater’s arm as he threw late in the second quarter, resulting in a Kamren Curl interception. Washington gave the ball right back, however, on an interception just a few plays later. So yes, please, totally blame Dwayne Haskins for their loss.

NFL Recap Week 16 Highlights: Offensive Line of the Week

Happy holidays, Drew Brees! You throw a football these days as if you are hoping the arthritis medication kicks in before the senior citizen aqua-Pilates class starts. Still, at least the offensive line of Terron Armstead, James Hurst, Erik McCoy, Cesar Ruiz, and Ryan Ramczyk has been ready to rise to every occasion.

Alvin Kamara, Latavius Murray, and others rushed for 264 yards and 5.9 yards per carry. Brees was not sacked once as the Saints’ offensive line blew the Minnesota Vikings defensive front off the ball snap after snap. 

Special shoutouts to Hurst, who has played well while bouncing from left tackle to left guard to cover various injuries this season, and sixth lineman Will Clapp who has seen a lot of action blocking for both the Taysom Hill Experience and Grampy Wobblers on Christmas Day.

NFL Recap Week 16: Special Teamer of the Week

Seattle Seahawks punter Michael Dickson nailed four kicks inside the 20-yard line, forcing the Los Angeles Rams to start drives at their own 13, 12, 14, and 12-yard lines after punts. Field position made a huge difference in a 20-9 win that allowed the Seahawks to clinch the NFC West.

NFL Recap Week 16: Best Supporting Actor in Someone Else’s Highlight

Bobby McCain has had a fine year as the Dolphins’ free safety. But McCain found himself in a hopeless situation when Nelson Agholor caught a sideline pass over cornerback Byron Jones and broke free in the open field. McCain spun back to his right to try to make a play as Agholor cut back toward the middle of the field. McCain twirled back to his left when Agholor cut back toward the sideline.

Ultimately, a safety is either in position to make a play, flicks the dive stick to make things look cool, or spends the tail end of a touchdown highlight looking like he’s getting juked out of his cleats while hoping a teammate races up to make a play from behind. No teammate ever did. 

NFL Recap of Week 16 is contractually obligated to link to this highlight every time Agholor is mentioned because it will never not be funny. 

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