Chops316 Monday Morning Quarterback: 2021 Week 17 Part One


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Happy New Year and welcome to Part I of my Monday Morning Quarterback Post for Week 17. I hope your New Year's celebration went well. Or if you stayed home and just watched some college football I hope you enjoyed some rest.

After having a great Christmas weekend football-wise, my New Years weekend stunk. My Nittany Lions embarrassed themselves in the Outback Bowl on Saturday and my Cowboys followed it up by playing like trash on Sunday. Good Grief.

Oh well, at least I had some fun on New Year's Eve. I went with some friends to see the excellent Led Zeppelin cover band Get The Led Out. I've seen them many times and they always deliver a great show. If they come to your area I recommend going to see them.

Back to the NFL. The playoff picture got much clearer after Week 17. 11 of the 14 playoff spots have now been claimed. The seedings are a different story. Only the Green Bay Packers have clinched a seed, the #1 spot in the NFC. Lots of shuffling among the other teams to come next week.

Just remember I am a Dallas Cowboys fan and I'm extremely biased. Feel free to agree or disagree about anything mentioned here. All comments are welcome.

Unhappy New Year


Isaiah Simmons punched the ball out of Dak's hands for a costly turnover

Cardinals 25 Cowboys 22

Last week the Cowboys played a near perfect game against Washington. In Week 17 they could have hardly played worse against the Cardinals. The most frustrating part of this loss is despite how poorly Dallas played, they still could have won this game if they made a play or two. Ugh.

A lot of the Cowboys were blaming this loss on the referees. Yes the officiating was bad, but that is not a valid excuse. The Cowboys had multiple chances to make plays and failed. And the refs made bad calls against the Cardinals as well.

The Cardinals opened up the scoring with a field goal in the 1st quarter. Dallas then drove down to the Cardinals 25-yard line and attempted a field goal of their own. Greg Zuerlein missed the 43 yard attempt. Oh boy. Right then and there I had a bad feeling about this game. I wasn’t wrong, though those three points left on the field ended up being costly.

A few punts were traded before Arizona made a big play. Facing a 4th and two on their own 36-yard line, the Cards faked a punt and completed a 22 yard pass. The play sparked the Cards offense and they finished the drive with a TD for a 10-0 lead. Dallas came back with a scoring drive of their own as Dak Prescott hit Michael Gallup with a 21 yard TD pass. But it was a costly score as Gallup tore his ACL on the play and will miss the rest of the season. Ouch. Arizona tacked on a field goal and entered halftime with a 13-7 lead.

Arizona took control of the game in the 3rd quarter. They scored nine points (field goal and TD with failed two point conversion) while holding the Cowboys to zip. 22-7 lead for the Cardinals entering the final period. The Cowboys were in good position to start the 4th as a nice punt return set them up with a short field. Dak Prescott finally started making some plays and Dallas scored a TD to cut their deficit to 22-14. The defense got stiff and forced an Arizona punt as Dallas got the ball back with a chance to tie.

The chance evaporated quickly as Prescott was stripped of the ball and Arizona recovered. They didn’t go far, but still kicked a field goal to extend the lead to 25-14. The Cowboys weren’t dead yet and came back with a long TD drive and a successful two point conversion to get within three points. Arizona got the ball back with a little under five minutes left in the game. They got a couple of first downs and forced Dallas to use all of their timeouts. Then they got lucky. Chase Edmonds fumbled the ball right before the two minute warning and Dallas recovered. Except the refs missed the fumble. Dallas couldn’t review the play because they had no more timeouts. Dammit! Arizona killed the clock from there.

That missed call on the fumble hurt, but Dallas had many other opportunities to win this game. Dak’s fumble and Zuerlein’s missed field goal hurt more. Prescott (24/38, 226 yards, 3 TDs, 1 fumble) was off until the 4th quarter. He played great then, but it was too late. Zeke Elliott (9 rushes, 16 yards) had awful numbers, but the refs did him no favors. He had a few nice runs called back with holding penalties.

The defense wasn’t bad, but they forced zero turnovers and the Cowboys needed that kind of play when the offense was slumping through three quarters. Dallas fell to 11-5 and dropped from the 2nd seed to the 4th in the NFC. Outside of something weird happening that is where they will enter the playoffs. They head to Philadelphia next week.

The Cardinals needed a win badly and they played like it. Kyler Murray (26/38, 263 yards, 2 TDs) escaped the pass rush several times to get big yards from broken plays. Most importantly for Arizona he didn’t turn the ball over. The Cardinals defense held the Cowboys in check for three quarters and got a big turnover that saved the game. Arizona improved to 11-5.

The Cardinals are locked into the playoffs and can still win the NFC West. They’ll have to beat the Seahawks next week and they need the Rams to lose to the 49ers. If they win the West they’ll get the #2 or #3 seed. Otherwise they’ll enter the playoffs as a wild card at the #5 seed. If they come in as a wild card their first game will probably be back in Dallas.

AFC Showdown


Ja'Marr Chase had a record setting afternoon

Bengals 34 Chiefs 31

The Cincinnati Bengals stepped up in Week 17 and sent a message to the AFC. You better take them seriously as they aren’t the same old Bungles. The Bengals roared backed from an early 14 point deficit and dominated the Chiefs in the second half to claim their first AFC North title in six years.

The Chiefs punted on their first possession, then went on to score four TDs on their next four possessions. They had leads of 14-0 and 28-14 before the Bengals kicked a field goal right before the break. Kansas City held a 28-17 lead at halftime and their offense looked unstoppable.

Things changed in the second half. The Chiefs offense went cold as the Bengals kept plugging away. The Bengals scored a TD on their first possessions of the 3rd and 4th quarter to take their first lead of the game at 31-28. KC’s offense woke up a little after that and drove down to the Bengals 16-yard line before their drive stalled. They kicked a field goal to tie the game at 31-31 with six minutes left on the clock.

The Bengals needed to score and also eat up the clock in order to prevent Patrick Mahomes from mounting a comeback. A big pass from Joe Burrow to Ja’Marr Chase set up the Bengals at the Chiefs 24-yard line, but a penalty and a sack moved them back. With three minutes left, the Bengals were facing a 3rd and 27 at the Chiefs 41-yard line. At the very least they needed to gain some yards to kick a go-ahead field goal. The Burrow-Chase connection did better than that:

The 30 yard pass gave the Bengals a 1st down at the Chiefs 11-yard line. A few runs later the Bengals had a 1st and goal from the one. But the Chiefs stuffed three straight running plays. Instead of kicking the field goal and giving the ball back to Mahomes with a minute left, Cincy went for the TD. Joe Burrow pass fell short, but penalties on both teams erased the play. The Bengals went for it again KC was flagged for illegal use of hands. That gave the Bengals a first down and the Chiefs were out of timeouts. After a kneel down, Evan McPherson kicked the game winning field goal as time expired. Crazy finish.

I told @wolfgangsport I was looking forward to this game and I wasn’t disappointed. Joe Burrow (30/39, 446 yards, 4 TDs) had his second huge game in a row. Mainly due to Ja’Marr Chase (11 receptions, 266 yards, 3 TDs). Chase had a number of long catches and set a new NFL record for receiving yards by a rookie in a game.

The Bengals defense got buzz sawed in the first half, but recovered to only give up three points in the second. Huge win for Cincinnati, who improved to 10-6 and clinched the AFC North. The Bengals currently hold the #3 seed and mathematically can still claim the top spot, although the odds are pretty low. The Bengals will travel upstate to Cleveland next week.

Huge loss for the Chiefs, who got knocked out of the #1 seed in the AFC. The Chiefs were rolling on offense in the first half, but fell apart after that. Patrick Mahomes (26/35, 259 yards, 2 TDs) never got a last minute chance as the Bengals held onto the ball for the final six minutes of the game. Kansas City was surprisingly good on the ground, as Darrel Williams (14 rushes, 88 yards, 2 TDs) led a running back committee that gained 155 yards.

Ultimately the defense failed as they never figured out how to slow down Ja’Marr Chase when the offense stalled. The Chiefs fell to 11-5 and slipped behind the Titans into the #2 seed. They will need to win next week at Denver and have the Titans lose to the Texans to regain the #1 seed.

Nearly The Upset Of The Week


Tom Brady had to tap into some final minute magic to top the Jets

Buccaneers 28 Jets 24

Last season the Tampa Bay Buccaneers got hot at the end of the year and rode that streak all the way to a Super Bowl victory. This year they needed some last minute magic by Tom Brady to sneak by the Jets. What a difference a year can make. The Bucs last second win however was overshadowed by more bizarre antics by Antonio Brown.

The Jets offense started strong against the Bucs normally stout defense by scoring TDs on their first two possessions. Tom Brady threw an interception near the end of the 2nd quarter and New York was able to convert the turnover into a field goal before time expired. The Jets held a 17-10 lead at halftime.

The Buccaneers received the opening kickoff of the second half and only gained one first down before punting. The Jets continued to roll as Zach Wilson led another TD drive. With seven minutes left in the 3rd quarter, the Jets were leading 24-10. Uh oh, upset alert!

Then New York came back to reality. The Bucs scored ten points sandwiched around two Jets three and outs to cut their deficit to 24-20 with seven minutes left in the game. The Jets needed a big drive to ice the game and they nearly got it. Nearly. They drove the ball down to the Bucs 7-yard line with two minutes left on the clock. From there they face a 4th and 2. A field goal would put them up by 7, but head coach Robert Saleh feared a Brady comeback and decided to go for a kill shot.

Zach Wilson tried to gain the yards with a QB sneak, but he was stuffed for no gain. Despite having no timeouts left, Brady drove the Bucs 93 yards in the final two minutes to score a game winning TD. To add insult to injury Tampa went for two and converted for a 28-24 last second come from behind win.

The story of this game should have been the Jets nearly pulling off a major upset before being thwarted by Tom Brady’s last minute heroics. Sadly it isn’t. Antonio Brown went haywire, again, and stole the headlines. The details are murky, but this is what we know. In the 3rd quarter Tampa head coach Bruce Arians told Brown to go into the game, but Brown refused. Brown was clearly agitated on the sidelines as teammates tried to calm him down. While the Bucs offense was on the field, Brown removed his jersey and shoulder pads on the sideline. He then took off his shirt and gloves, tossing them into the stands. While the Bucs were near the goal line on one side of the field Brown ran to the opposite endzone, did some jumping jacks and flashed peace signs to the crowd before running up the tunnel. Brown reportedly then left the stadium.

The only obvious thing about this situation is Antonio Brown is not right in the head. After the game the Bucs cut Brown. Brown later claimed he refused to go back into the game because he re-injured his ankle. Bruce Arians said Brown did not say anything about being injured and didn’t report his injury to the trainer, as is NFL protocol. Brown’s excuse doesn’t hold much water as he ran off the field with ease, showing no signs of being injured. He even stopped to jump around the end zone and wave to the fans.

Just another sad chapter to the Antonio Brown saga. Pittsburgh dumped him after he left practice and refused to participate in a Week 17 game that was a win or go home situation for the Steelers. The Raiders traded for him and cut him before training camp ended when he repeatedly missed practice and nearly got into a fist fight with G.M. Mike Mayock. The Patriots signed Brown and he played exactly one game for New England before he was cut due to accusations of domestic violence and other assorted battery. Tampa Bay signed him at the request of Tom Brady and got one year out of him with no issues. Year two the problems began before culminating in his bizarre actions on Sunday.

The Bucs needed Brown after Chris Godwin went down for the season with an ACL injury. Now they have to move on without him. Tom Brady (34/50, 410 yards, 3 TDs, 1 INT) didn’t miss him this week, but they were only playing the Jets. The Bucs improved to 12-4 and currently hold the # 3 seed in the NFC. They finish off the season by hosting the Panthers next week.

The Jets made a helluva effort to score the upset, but came up just short. Zach Wilson (19/33, 234 yards, 1 TD) looked good through three quarters, but the Bucs defense eventually caught up to him. The Jets dropped to 4-12 and finish the season in Buffalo next week.

Around The League


Josh Jacobs breaking free

Raiders 23 Colts 20

The Indianapolis Colts were sitting pretty coming into Week 17. All they had to do was defeat the Las Vegas Raiders at home to clinch a playoff berth. Instead they let the Raiders come back to win, putting their playoff hopes in jeopardy while keeping the Raiders alive.

The Colts offense started slow, which wasn’t surprising since quarterback Carson Wentz missed a week of practice on the covid list. The Raiders led 10-0 in the 2nd quarter before the Colts finally got on the board with a field goal. The Raiders tacked on another field goal before the Colts finally put a TD drive together before the half ended. The Raiders had the lead 13-10 at halftime.

Carson Wentz shook off the rust by hitting T.Y. Hilton with a 45 yard TD pass to start the 3rd quarter. The Colts had their first lead at 17-13. Derek Carr threw an interception with the Raiders first possession to set the Colts up at midfield, but Indy couldn’t take advantage of the turnover and punted.

A series of punts followed until the Raiders found the end zone again early in the 4th quarter to retake the lead 20-17. Indy then embarked on a long 15 play drive. It stalled at the Raiders 22-yard line and the Colts kicked a field goal to tie the game at 20-20 with 2 minutes left on the clock.

The Raiders had one last chance to avoid overtime. Derek Carr connected on a few passes to drive the ball into Colts territory and Joshua Jacobs took it from there with a few runs down to the Colts 15-yard line. Daniel Carlson then kicked a 33 yard game winning field goal as time expired.

The Raiders have been on the brink of elimination for several weeks, but three straight wins have kept them alive. Derek Carr (24/31, 255 yards, 1 TD, 2 INTs) wasn’t great, but he came up with the clutch passes on the final drive to overcome his two turnovers. The Raider improved to 9-7. The Raiders will make the playoffs if they beat the Chargers at home next week. They still have a chance to move on if they lose, but it is convoluted and unlikely. They better win if they want to move on.

The Colts are a good team, but for whatever reason they drop too many games they should win. Like this game. The defense forced two turnovers, but the offense failed to cash them in for any points. That cost them big time. Carson Wentz (16/27, 148 yards, 1 TD) was not sharp, although he avoided turnovers. The Raiders contained Jonathan Taylor (20 rushes, 108 yards, 1 TD) as much as they could hope for. Indy fell to 9-7, but still control their playoff destiny. A win or tie next week in Jacksonville and they are in. If they lose, oh boy, they can still qualify, but will need a bunch of scenarios to work out just right. Then again if they can’t the Jaguars they don’t deserve a playoff spot.


Bills 29 Falcons 16

All season long the Achilles heel of the Buffalo Bills has been their overreliance on quarterback Josh Allen. As Allen goes, the Bills go. Not in Week 17. With Josh Allen having his worse game of the year as a passer, the running game and the defense stepped up for Buffalo to defeat the Atlanta Falcons.

The Falcons opened up the scoring when Buffalo muffed a punt and the Bill who recovered the ball was tackled in the end zone for a safety. Atlanta had the rare 2-0 lead. The Bills came back fast, scoring a TD and then strip sacking Matt Ryan for another fast short field TD. Quickly the Bills went ahead 14-2 and the rout was on.

But maybe not. After kicking a field goal, Atlanta picked off Josh Allen on consecutive possessions and turned the turnovers into 10 points. The Falcons led 15-14 at halftime. Upset in the making?

The Bills took the opening kickoff of the second half and Allen threw another interception. Despite Atlanta having another short field, the Bills defense held firm and forced a punt. From there Buffalo decided it was safer to run the rock. Allen and the Bills running backs added two more TDs in the second half while the defense shut out the Falcons.

It was a snowy day in Buffalo and we are learning Josh Allen struggles to pass in sloppy weather. Allen (11/26, 120 yards, 3 INTs) was atrocious in the air. His turnovers kept Atlanta in the game in the first half. Buffalo found a lot more success on the ground as Allen (15 rushes, 81 yards, 2 TDs), Devin Singletary (23 rushes, 110 yards, 2 TDs) and Zack Moss (5 rushes, 39 yards) bulldozed the Falcons defense.

The Bills defense sacked Matt Ryan five times and held Atlanta to only ten points from their three turnovers. The Bills improved to 10-6 and still lead the AFC East. They will clinch the division with a win over the Jets next week or if the Patriots lose to the Dolphins. If they fail to win the division they will still be in as a wild card.

If the defense hadn’t forced so many turnovers the Falcons would have been completely blown out. Matt Ryan (13/23, 197 yards) didn’t light up the sky either and had to run for his life most of the afternoon. The Falcons fell to 7-9 and are now officially eliminated from the playoffs. They will host the Saints next week and New Orleans will be desperate for a win.


Bears 29 Giants 3

If you were wondering which game in Week 17 was the ugliest, look no further. The Giants have completely given up on their season. It’s sad really. Even though other teams like the Jaguars, Lions and Jets are also awful, at least those squads are still competing. The Giants have thrown in the towel and are just waiting for the season to be over.

The Bears offense wasn’t pretty either, but their defense was so dominant it didn’t matter. Giants quarterback Mike Glennon was strip sacked on the Giants first play and threw an interception on the Giants second possession. Chicago only had to gain 26 yards on offense to take a fast 14-0 lead.

From there the Giants decided to help the Bears run out the clock. New York ran 40 rushing plays against 11 passing plays. They didn’t even try to make a come back. Maybe that was just as well since the Giants totaled -10 passing yards for the game. You read that right, -10. Mike Glennon connected on only four of those eleven passes for 24 yards. He was sacked four times for -34 yards. Ouch. Glennon ended up with nearly as many turnovers (3) as he did completions (4).

The Bears offense was fairly bad too so I’m not reporting those numbers. The defense deserves all the credit for the win. Chicago sacked Glennon four times, forced three turnovers and recorded a safety. They held the Giants to 151 total yard and an average of 2.7 yards per play. It was a blood bath.

The Giants fell to 4-12. They will host the No-Names next week and if they aren’t prepared to play any harder they should just stay home and forfeit. It would be less demeaning. The Bears improved to 6-10. They head to Minnesota next week for a meaningless game against the Vikings since both teams have been eliminated from the playoffs.


Patriots 50 Jaguars 10

After taking over the top spot in the AFC, the Patriots lost two games in a row. The losses not only knocked them out of the #1 seed, they knocked them out of first place in the AFC East. On Sunday New England took out their frustrations on Jacksonville by blowing them completely out of the water.

Unlike the Giants, the Jaguars made an effort to play. Yet they still got destroyed because they are awful. The Patriots scored a TD on each of their four possessions in the first half to take a 28-3 lead into halftime.

New England scored another TD with their first possession of the second half, giving them five straight TD drives. Jacksonville finally forced a punt on their 6th possession, but New England went on to score 17 more points in the second half. The Jags got a meaningless garbage time TD late in the 4th quarter and the Patriots took pity on them by running out the clock from there.

Talk about offensive domination, the Patriots scored on eight out of nine possessions before running out the clock. Mac Jones (22/30, 227 yards, 3 TDs) was stellar before being lifted in the 4th quarter. Rhamondre Stevenson (19 rushes, 107 yards, 2 TDs) led a running back committee that compiled 181 yards on the ground.

The Patriots defense harassed Trevor Lawrence into three interceptions, all of which were cashed in for TDs. It was a near perfect performance for New England, who improved to 10-6. The Patriots playoff scenarios for Week 18 are insane. They have clinched a spot, but depending on next week’s games they could be seeded anywhere from #1 to #6. Wow.

It’s been a lost season for Jacksonville. Trevor Lawrence (17/27, 193 yards, 1 TD, 3 INTs) fared as poorly as most rookie quarterbacks do against a Bill Belichick defense. And on the other side of the ball the Jaguars defense had zero answers in how to even slow down the Patriots. The Jaguars fell to 2-14 and will clinch the top pick in next year’s draft with a loss against the Colts at home next week.


Titans 34 Dolphins 3

It was a cold, wet day in Nashville. Perfect for running the football. The Titans, even without Derrick Henry, are good at running the football. The Dolphins are not. So it wasn’t surprising Tennessee snapped Miami’s seven game winning streak.

Despite the messy weather, the Dolphins game plan on offense ran through Tua Tagovailoa. It didn’t go well. Tua fumbled the ball three times, although he only lost one, and threw an interception. The Titans on the other hand went run heavy and let Ryan Tannehill pick his spots.

The Titans led 17-3 at halftime and the score entering the final period was the same after a scoreless 3rd quarter. In the 4th Miami was desperate for points and gave up on punting. They turned the ball over on downs several times and Tennessee cashed in on the short field for points. The Titans tacked on 17 in the 4th quarter alone to complete the dismantling of the Dolphins.

Behind running back D’Onta Foreman (26 rushes, 132 yards, 1 TD) Tennessee ran over the Dolphins. The ground game totaled 198 yards and two TDs on 40 carries. With the running backs doing the heavy lifting, Ryan Tannehill (13/18, 120 yards, 2 TDs) was efficient with his passing.

The Titans defense sacked Tua four times and forced two turnovers while only allowing 3 points. The Titans improved to 11-5 and retook the top seed in the AFC with the Chiefs loss to the Bengals. They will clinch next week with a win over the Texans in Houston. Sounds easy, but Houston did defeat the Titans in Tennessee earlier this season. I don’t see that happening again.

The Dolphins playoff hopes were dashed with this loss. Tua (18/38, 205 yards, 1 INT, 1 fumble) clearly looked uncomfortable in the sloppy conditions and the Titans defense made him pay for it. Miami would have been better off running more. All told they rushed the ball 16 times for 74 yards. You have to be able to run in the playoffs and that is Miami’s biggest weakness on offense.

Defensively the Dolphins were run over by Tennessee. The Dolphins dropped to 8-8 and were officially eliminated from the playoffs. Still they made a valiant effort after their horrible 1-7 start. They can louse up the Patriots playoff standings next week if they beat them in Miami.


Another Death in the NFL Family


Former Dallas Cowboy Running Back and long time Head Coach Dan Reeves

Before I finish this post I sadly have to mention another death in the NFL Family. Former Cowboys running back and longtime head coach Dan Reeves died on New Year’s Eve at the age of 77. His death has been overshadowed by the loss of John Madden, but Reeves had a notable career. He appeared in nine Super Bowls in various capacities, only Brady and Belichick have been in more.

A quarterback at South Carolina, the Cowboys signed Reeves to play safety in 1965. The next season he was moved to running back and led the NFL with 16 total TDs, 8 rushing and 8 receiving. His most famous play occurred in the Ice Bowl where he threw a 50 yard TD pass on a halfback option. Reeves injured his knee in 1968 and was a backup for his final few seasons. He was on the team for the Cowboys first two Super Bowl appearances, including their win in Super Bowl VI. Reeves retired after the championship and spent the next nine years as a Cowboys coach with three more Super Bowl appearances and another title.

In 1981 Reeves became the head coach of the Denver Broncos. After trading for John Elway the Broncos became an AFC powerhouse. Reeves led the Broncos to three Super Bowls, but lost them all. After being fired in Denver Reeves became the Giants head coach, leading them to an 11-5 record and a playoff berth in 1993, in which he won Coach of the year. Things went sour after that as the Cowboys dominated the NFC East in the 90’s. He left New York to take over the Atlanta Falcons in 1997.

The Falcons shocked the NFL by going 14-2 in 1998 reaching the Super Bowl. Reeves lost that game as well, this time against his former charges the Denver Broncos. Reeves was named Coach of the year for a second time.

Dan Reeves retired during the 2003 season. He finished with a coaching record of 201-174-2. His 201 wins are 9th best in NFL history. He is the only person in NFL history to participate in multiple Super Bowls as both a player and a coach. Reeves also took three different teams to the playoffs as a head coach, only Bill Parcells and Chuck Knox have done the same. Rest in Peace Dan, I’m sure him and Tom Landry have been catching up.


Part II will be out later this week. Thanks for reading and feel free to leave a comment below.


Happy new year chopchop 🪅🪁🪅


Happy new year to you as well. I hope all is good.


I ll keep on trying 🌸 thanks