NFL Wrap-Up: Week 17 East Divisions

The East was full of huge games with playoff implications – including a “winner take all” showdown between the Giants and Cowboys in New York.

Nash Herringtonby Nash Herrington

AFC East

New York Jets  17
Miami Dolphins  19

The Jets were once again misfiring on all cylinders Sunday against the Miami Dolphins….just as they had been doing for the final three weeks of the season.  Even with 1,000-yard rusher Reggie Bush on the sidelines the Dolphins were still able to take down a Jets team that looked disinterested and sluggish.  

Mark Sanchez threw three interceptions for the Jets and they finished their last three games 0-3 and now miss  out on the playoffs after going to back-to-back AFC Championship games the last two seasons.

The Dolphins (to their credit) were able to capitalize on all three Jets turnovers, turning all three of them into field goals.  In all, the Jets allowed 126 points off of turnovers for the season – an NFL high.

The Dolphins carried out a 21-play, 94-yard drive for their only touchdown as the Jets allowed six third-down conversions on that drive alone.  All in all, the Dolphins had just 210 yards of offense, but were able to capitalize on the Jets many mistakes and Mark Sanchez threw for just 207 yards with the three interceptions.

Bigger, perhaps, than the Jets loss was the fact that members of the team were accusing star receiver Santonio Holmes of quitting during their final drive of the game and criticizing his supposed minimal effort.  It remains to be seen whether Holmes, a team captain, will remain in New York for next season after the spat.


Buffalo Bills  21
New England Patriots

The Buffalo Bills scored 21 unanswered points in the first quarter to take a commanding lead on the #1 playoff-seeded Patriots – they never scored again after that.  The Patriots pulled away with 49 unanswered points of their own in the final three quarters, including three touchdown passes by Tom Brady.

The Bills had no answers for New England’s killer tight end duo of Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski.  The two players accounted for 246 yards receiving and 3 TDs on the game.  

In all, the Patriots had 480 yards of total offense and committed just one turnover.  The Bills had 402 yards of their own, but quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick threw four interceptions, the final of which was returned for a touchdown.  The Bills were also just 1 of 7 on third-down conversions, helping lead to their demise.  

Quarterback Tom Brady tied John Elway for fifth all-time in career passing touchdowns, throwing his 300th in this game.  He also threw for the second-most passing yards ever in a single season with 5,235 yards – surpassed only by Drew Brees this season.

Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski also set a single-season receiving yardage record for tight ends with 1,327 yards this season, surpassing another New Orleans Saint, tight end Jimmy Graham who also accomplished his mark of 1,310 this season.

For the Bills, running back CJ Spiller looked good down the stretch this season, filling in for injured tailback Fred Jackson.  Spiller finished 2011 with 561 rushing yards, 269 receiving yards and six total touchdowns giving the Bills something to look forward to at the running back position for the coming seasons.


NFC East

Washington Redskins  10
Philadelphia Eagles  34

The Eagles were able to pick the Redskins apart on Sunday and close out the 2011 season on a four-game winning streak.  Micheal Vick threw for 335 yards and three touchdowns, but the Eagles simply played their best football too late in the season.  They are now going home for the postseason for the first time since 2007 and for just the fourth time in head coach Andy Reid’s 13 seasons with the team.  

Eagles leading rusher LeSean McCoy sat out the game and Michael Vick became just the second player ever to finish consecutive seasons with 3,000 yards passing and 500 yards rushing.  Despite going 5-1 in the NFC East the Eagles finished just 8-8 and must hope for a more cohesive unit next season.  If they can start 2012 the way they finished 2011 they should be just fine.

Redskins quarterback Rex Grossman finished with 256 yards passing and running back Evan Royster had 113 yards on the ground for the game.  Grossman said that he hopes to be back in a Redskins uniform next year.  As for Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan, his 5-11 finish was his worst in 18 years as a coach.  However, the Redskins did show flashes of brilliance on offense this year and given the right players Shanahan’s scheme could be magical.  The Redskins finished last in the NFC East for a franchise-record fourth consecutive season.

Eagles tight end Brent Celek, who caught six passes for 86 yards and a touchdown on Sunday finished the second-best season of his young career – Celek had 62 catches for 811 yards and five touchdowns on the season.


Dallas Cowboys  14
New York Giants  31

The big question coming into Sunday’s “winner take all” NFC East showdown everybody was focused on whether or not Tony Romo and his injured hand would be effective enough to pull out a win and a playoff berth for the Cowboys.  The big question after the Cowboys second consecutive loss to the Giants on Sunday night; Where was the Cowboys defense?  

Eli Manning and the Giants offense looked absolutely brilliant on Sunday night’s NFL season finale.  Manning threw for 346 yards, completing 73 percent of his passes and threw three touchdowns.  Giants receivers Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz dominated the Cowboys sluggish secondary (combined for 11 catches and 254 receiving yards), making them look slow and tired all night long.

Giants running back Ahmad Bradshaw added two touchdowns of his own, one rushing and one receiving.

The Cowboys offense actually played fairly well in this game.  Tony Romo’s hand seemed to be fine and he threw for 289 yards, including two touchdown passes.  The problem was the running game, which totaled just 49 yards on the night.

Bottom line, the Giants dominated the line of scrimmage sacking Romo six times and allowing just those miniscule 49 yards of rushing.


Offensive Player of the Week

Victor Cruz (WR, Giants) – 6 catches, 178 yards, 1 TD


Defensive Player of the Week

Giants Defensive Line – 13 tackles, 5 sacks


Division Standings

AFC East

New England Patriots (13-3)

New York Jets (8-8)

Miami Dolphins (6-10)

Buffalo Bills (6-10)


NFC East

New York Giants (9-7)

Philadelphia Eagles (8-8)

Dallas Cowboys (8-8)

Washington Redskins (5-11)


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