WhatIfSports Duel to the Death Season: Week 15 (Part 2)

If you missed yesterday’s results, click here. That post also has pre-Week 15 standings and an explanation of some of the different tiebreakers that may come into play down the stretch. Fun times! Here’s the back half of Week 15’s action:

1968 New York Jets (6-8) 13, 1975 Pittsburgh Steelers (10-4) 10

Joe Namath shook off four interceptions to throw a game-tying 27-yard touchdown pass to Don Maynard with 1:39 remaining and Jim Turner won the game with a 47-yard field goal with two seconds remaining as the Jets kept their pencil-thin playoff hopes alive for another week. Mel Blount and Glen Edwards each picked off Namath twice, but Namath led the Jets on a nine-play, 51-yard drive that culminated with that touchdown throw to Maynard. Joe Gilliam, playing in relief of Terry Bradshaw, led the Steelers to the edge of Roy Gerela’s field goal range, but Gerela’s 50-yard field goal attempt went wide right with 32 seconds to play. Then Namath completed three quick passes to George Sauer, Bill Mathis and Pete Lammons to set up Turner for the game-winner. The loss likely cements the Steelers in the #4 slot in the playoffs; they’re now a game behind the Patriots for the #3 slot and New England owns the tiebreaker due to their Week 2 win.

1999 St. Louis Rams (11-3) 39, 2002 Tampa Bay Buccaneers (8-6) 7

Marshall Faulk rushed for 140 yards on 14 attempts, including a 60-yard touchdown run in the first quarter and the Rams routed their greatest nemesis from the Greatest Show on Turf days, clinching a first-round bye in the process. Kurt Warner was efficient, going 10-of-14 for 177 yards and a 59-yard touchdown pass to Ricky Proehl (one can only assume that the entire Bucs secondary died on the play). Jeff Wilkins added six field goals for the Rams. Tampa Bay could only gain 76 rushing yards on 32 attempts and missed an opportunity to jump back into first place in the NFC South.

2000 Tennessee Titans (13-1) 27, 1964 Cleveland Browns (1-13) 7

As was expected in a battle of teams tied for the league’s best and worst records, respectively, the Titans rolled into Cleveland Stadium and took care of business, getting one step closer to clinching a first-round bye in the AFC. Steve McNair went 15-of-20 for 211 yards and a touchdown pass to Yancey Thigpen; Eddie George and Rodney Thomas added rushing touchdowns for Tennessee, as well. Jim Brown played well in defeat, rushing for 157 yards on 23 attempts; his quarterback, Frank Ryan, was miserable as usual, however, going 17-of-28 for 89 yards, a touchdown and an interception.

1979 San Diego Chargers (13-1) 25, 1991 Houston Oilers (6-8) 24

Meanwhile in San Diego, 16 unanswered fourth quarter points culminating in a 13-yard touchdown pass from Dan Fouts to Charlie Joiner with seven seconds left also sent the Chargers to 13-1, setting up a winner-take-all showdown with Tennessee next week for home-field advantage in the AFC playoffs. When Ernest Givins caught an eight-yard score from Warren Moon to give Houston a 24-9 lead late in the third quarter, however, things weren’t looking bright for San Diego. Fouts, though, led the Chargers back with a 5-yard touchdown throw to Joiner early in the fourth quarter. Then, after a Rolf Benirschke field goal moved the score to 24-19, Fouts led the Chargers 44 yards in ten plays to win the game with his second touchdown pass to Joiner. San Diego failed to pick up the two-point conversion, but Houston was unable to run a play from scrimmage after the resulting kickoff. The loss all but ends the Oilers’ fading playoff dreams.

1992 Dallas Cowboys (11-3) 23, 1991 Washington Redskins (9-5) 6

The Cowboys clinched a season sweep of the Redskins, the NFC East title and a first-round bye in the NFC through stingy defense, 132 rushing yards and two touchdowns from Emmitt Smith and a 14-of-16 performance from Troy Aikman. Dallas kept Washington out of the end zone until the fourth quarter – by then, they had already built a 16-point advantage on three Lin Elliott field goals and Smith’s 2-yard touchdown run in the second quarter. After Mark Rypien’s 2-yard touchdown pass to Gary Clark cut the lead to 16-6, Smith put the game away with a 9-yard run with 1:46 remaining. Aikman finished with 147 yards on those 16 attempts; Rypien only threw for 174 yards on 25 attempts for the Redskins, who can now only make the playoffs through the wild card.

1952 Detroit Lions (3-11) 17, 1976 Oakland Raiders (3-11) 14

Jug Girard caught a 9-yard touchdown pass from Bobby Layne with 14 seconds remaining to give the Lions the road victory. Girard also rushed for 85 yards on just seven attempts and Layne threw for 141 yards and two touchdowns on 20 attempts. Ken Stabler went 13-of-16 for 168 yards and a score for Oakland.

1986 New York Giants (6-8) 45, 1960 Philadelphia Eagles (1-13) 10

Joe Morris took his turn swinging at the Eagles’ run defense pinata, rushing for 224 yards and four touchdowns on 24 carries as the Giants routed the Eagles at Giants Stadium. Morris scored on runs of 12, 20, 41, and 2 yards. Phil Simms added 198 passing yards and two touchdowns on 29 attempts.

1985 Chicago Bears (9-5) 20, 1973 Minnesota Vikings (4-10) 10

Backed by touchdown runs greater than 20 yards from Walter Payton and Matt Suhey, the Bears scored 20 unanswered points in the second half to clinch a season sweep of the Vikings and move into first place in the NFC North, due to their Week 5 win over Green Bay at Lambeau Field. The Bears could clinch the division by beating the Packers next week at Soldier Field. Payton finished with 121 yards on 18 attempts and Suhey added 77 on 11 carries. Fran Tarkenton was decent, going 18-of-30 for 192 yards and a touchdown, but the Vikings only gained 61 yards on the ground on 35 attempts.

Next week: The NFC North likely gets decided when the ’62 Packers travel to face the ’85 Bears; the ’92 Cowboys and ’99 Rams try to keep up with each other in the race for home-field advantage in the NFC when they take on the ’02 Buccaneers and ’75 Steelers, respectively; and the ’79 Chargers and ’00 Titans decide who will be the #1 seed in the AFC when they meet in Nashville.

AFC East

  1. ’07 New England: 11-3 (3)
  2. ’72 Miami: 7-7
  3. ’90 Buffalo: 7-7
  4. ’68 NY Jets: 6-8

AFC North

  1. ’75 Pittsburgh: 10-4 (4)
  2. ’81 Cincinnati: 7-7
  3. ’58 Baltimore: 6-8
  4. ’64 Cleveland: 1-13

AFC South

  1. ’00 Tennessee: 13-1 (1)
  2. ’99 Jacksonville: 8-6 (6)
  3. ’91 Houston: 6-8
  4. ’06 Indianapolis: 3-11

AFC West

  1. ’79 San Diego: 13-1 (2)
  2. ’69 Kansas City: 8-6 (5)
  3. ’98 Denver: 7-7
  4. ’76 Oakland: 3-11

NFC East

  1. ’92 Dallas: 11-3 (1)
  2. ’91 Washington: 9-5 (5)
  3. ’86 NY Giants: 6-8
  4. ’60 Philadelphia: 1-13

NFC North

  1. ’85 Chicago: 9-5 (3)
  2. ’62 Green Bay: 9-5 (5)
  3. ’73 Minnesota: 4-10
  4. ’52 Detroit: 3-11

NFC South

  1. ’05 Carolina: 8-6 (4)
  2. ’02 Tampa Bay: 8-6
  3. ’09 New Orleans: 6-8
  4. ’12 Atlanta: 5-9

NFC West

  1. ’99 St. Louis: 11-3 (2)
  2. ’05 Seattle: 6-7-1
  3. ’89 San Francisco: 6-7-1
  4. ’08 Arizona: 6-8
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