WhatIfSports Duel to the Death Season: Week 16 (Part 2)

The first half of this week’s results were posted yesterday. The results of the last eight games of Week 16 shall be revealed…well, now.

1972 Miami Dolphins (8-7) 12, 1968 New York Jets (6-9) 6 (OT)

For the second time this year, the Dolphins beat the Jets with an overtime touchdown run, this time by Mercury Morris from 21 yards away 11 minutes into the overtime period as Miami kept their wild-card hopes alive. Miami actually should have won the game in regulation after Bob Griese hit Paul Warfield with a 57-yard gain down to the New York 15-yard-line with under two minutes remaining in the fourth quarter. But on the very next play, Griese was picked off by Jim Hudson and the game went to an extra period, Griese threw for 214 yards on 25 attempts but was very inconsistent, completing only ten passes and throwing two interceptions overall. Joe Namath actually performed worse, however, going 11-of-25 for just 122 yards and two interceptions.

1991 Houston Oilers (7-8) 33, 1999 Jacksonville Jaguars (8-7) 15

Warren Moon threw for 228 yards and two touchdowns on 27 attempts and the Oilers threw the Jaguars’ wild-card hopes to a perilous place by virtue of their lopsided win at the Astrodome. Allen Pinkett added 106 yards, ten of which came on a touchdown run late in the first half, on 17 attempts. James Stewart scored two rushing touchdowns for Jacksonville, who still controls its own destiny for the final wild-card slot but must host co-AFC leader Tennessee in its final game of the season.

1979 San Diego Chargers (14-1) 24, 2000 Tennessee Titans (13-2) 23

Artie Owens scored on a 6-yard touchdown run with 2:27 remaining and the Chargers used the aid of two devastating Titans turnovers to come back from a 17-point third quarter deficit and clinch home field advantage throughout the playoffs. The San Diego comeback began on the final play of the third quarter, when Dan Fouts threw a 63-yard touchdown pass to John Jefferson to cut the deficit to 10 points. After an Al Del Greco field goal midway through the fourth quarter made the score 23-10, the Chargers ran Clarence Williams for 10 yards, Mike Thomas for 47, and Lydell Mitchell for 11 and a touchdown to come within six with under six minutes to play. On the first play of the Titans’ next possession, Steve McNair was intercepted by Woodrow Lowe, which set up a short field for Owens’ go-ahead score. The Titans drove deep into San Diego territory on the next possession, but Eddie George (who ran for 159 yards and a touchdown on 25 attempts) fumbled at the Charger 20-yard line and San Diego was able to run out the clock from there. The road to the AFC Championship now goes through San Diego; meanwhile, the Titans need either a win next week against the Jaguars or a Patriots loss to clinch the other first-round bye.

2012 Atlanta Falcons (6-9) 31, 2008 Arizona Cardinals (6-9) 17

Matt Ryan went 22-of-29 for 307 yards and three touchdowns and the Falcons beat the Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium. Roddy White caught two of Ryan’s touchdowns and Julio Jones the other. Kurt Warner threw touchdown passes to Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin but also threw two interceptions.

2007 New England Patriots (12-3) 41, 2006 Indianapolis Colts (3-12)

Tom Brady had one of the best passing games of the season, going 24-of-29 for 358 yards and three touchdowns as he outdueled Peyton Manning to lead the Patriots to their 12th win of the season. Randy Moss had six catches for 134 yards and Wes Welker, Ben Watson and Donte Stallworth all caught touchdown passes from Brady. Facing a significantly tougher defense, Manning was nonetheless clearly inferior, going 16-of-32 for 220 yards and two garbage time touchdowns in the fourth quarter. The Patriots clinched at least the #3 seed in the AFC and, as noted in the Chargers-Titans recap, still have a shot at a first-round bye.

1999 St. Louis Rams (12-3) 24, 1975 Pittsburgh Steelers (10-5) 23

Marshall Faulk rushed for 159 yards on 16 carries, including a 58-yard touchdown run early in the fourth quarter that gave the Rams a lead they would not relinquish. Kurt Warner only went 15-of-31 for 101 yards, a touchdown and three interceptions – the last of which set up the Steelers with a golden opportunity to retake the lead late in the fourth quarter. However, Roy Gerela missed his 36-yard attempt and would later miss a desperation 58-yard try in the waning seconds. Franco Harris was outstanding, rushing for 161 yards and a touchdown on 23 attempts, but Terry Bradshaw didn’t help through the air, going 10-of-27 for 96 yards and an interception. The win puts St. Louis in the driver’s seat for home-field advantage through the NFC playoffs.

2005 Seattle Seahawks (7-7-1) 17, 2005 Carolina Panthers (8-7) 13

Shaun Alexander scored on a 3-yard touchdown run with 24 seconds remaining to cap a 10-point comeback in the last five minutes of the game and the Seahawks nipped the Panthers at Qwest Field. The Panthers’ loss clinched a wild-card slot for the Packers and now the only unknown playoff slot in the NFC is who will come out of the South. Carolina will play Tampa Bay next week in Charlotte to determine that final playoff team. Alexander’s touchdown was set up earlier by a 23-yard pass from Matt Hasselbeck to Joe Jurevicius on 4th-and-14.

1976 Oakland Raiders (4-11) 20, 1969 Kansas City Chiefs (8-7) 17

Fred Steinfort’s 24-yard field goal with 48 seconds remaining gave the Raiders the victory at the Oakland Coliseum and ruined a golden opportunity for their arch rivals to gain a leg up in the AFC wild-card chase. Warren McVea’s 46-yard touchdown run gave Kansas City a 17-10 lead early in the fourth quarter, but Mark Van Eeghen tied it up with a little over five minutes remaining with a 22-yard touchdown run of his own. Then after Len Dawson threw an interception in Oakland territory, Ken Stabler led the Raiders on an 11-play, 39-yard drive that culminated with Steinfort’s game-winning field goal. The loss actually moves Kansas City out of the playoffs for the moment, due to some complex tiebreakers that I’ll explain before next week’s games.

Next week: These are all the games next week that have some sort of playoff implications –

1972 Miami Dolphins @ 1986 New York Giants
1958 Baltimore Colts @ 1968 New York Jets
1999 St. Louis Rams @ 2012 Atlanta Falcons
1990 Buffalo Bills @ 1991 Washington Redskins
2002 Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ 2005 Carolina Panthers
1992 Dallas Cowboys @ 1960 Philadelphia Eagles
2006 Indianapolis Colts @ 1991 Houston Oilers
1952 Detroit Lions @ 1962 Green Bay Packers
2005 Seattle Seahawks @ 1981 Cincinnati Bengals
2000 Tennessee Titans @ 1999 Jacksonville Jaguars
1973 Minnesota Vikings @ 1969 Kansas City Chiefs
1976 Oakland Raiders @ 1979 San Diego Chargers
1998 Denver Broncos @ 2007 New England Patriots

AFC East

  1. ’07 New England: 12-3 (3)
  2. ’72 Miami: 8-7 (6)
  3. ’90 Buffalo: 7-8
  4. ’68 NY Jets: 6-9

AFC North

  1. ’75 Pittsburgh: 10-5 (4)
  2. ’58 Baltimore: 7-8
  3. ’81 Cincinnati: 7-8
  4. ’64 Cleveland: 2-13

AFC South

  1. ’00 Tennessee: 13-2 (2)
  2. ’99 Jacksonville: 8-7 (5)
  3. ’91 Houston: 7-8
  4. ’06 Indianapolis: 3-12

AFC West

  1. ’79 San Diego: 14-1 (1)
  2. ’69 Kansas City: 8-7
  3. ’98 Denver: 8-7
  4. ’76 Oakland: 4-11

NFC East

  1. ’92 Dallas: 11-4 (2)
  2. ’91 Washington: 10-5 (5)
  3. ’86 NY Giants: 7-8
  4. ’60 Philadelphia: 1-14

NFC North

  1. ’85 Chicago: 10-5 (3)
  2. ’62 Green Bay: 9-6 (6)
  3. ’73 Minnesota: 5-10
  4. ’52 Detroit: 3-12

NFC South

  1. ’02 Tampa Bay: 9-6 (4)
  2. ’05 Carolina: 8-7
  3. ’09 New Orleans: 6-9
  4. ’12 Atlanta: 6-9

NFC West

  1. ’99 St. Louis: 12-3 (1)
  2. ’05 Seattle: 7-7-1
  3. ’89 San Francisco: 6-8-1
  4. ’08 Arizona: 6-9
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