The NFL’s last weekend of the regular season looked like it might be a lackluster weekend because so many teams had already clinched playoff spots or were heavily favored to clinch them.
But things changed when Jacksonville stunned the Colts, who would have made the playoffs if they had won.
Pittsburgh then stayed alive with a 16-13 overtime victory over the Ravens. Ben Roethlisberger completed a fourth-and-nine pass to keep the field-goal drive alive. If he missed it, it probably would have been the last pass of his career since a tie would have knocked both the Steelers and Ravens out.
So the Steelers victory ended the playoff hopes of both the Colts and Ravens, and all the Steelers needed was the Raiders and Chargers not to play for a tie for them to make it.
The Steelers’ chances seemed good when the Raiders took a 15 point lead in the fourth quarter. Then the Chargers rallied for two touchdowns and a two-point conversion to send the game into overtime.
And the game remained tied as the teams traded field goals, the game was tied in the final minutes. Suddenly the Steelers looked like they could get knocked out by a tie.
Then things changed again. On the Raiders final drive, they appeared to be running out the clock to take the tie. They had a third-and-four at the Chargers 39 when the Chargers called timeout with 38 seconds left.
It may have been the most controversial move of the season after Josh Jacobs ran for 10 yards to put the Raiders in good field goal territory. They ran the clock down and Daniel Carlson kicked game-winner on the final play.
The Chargers said they called a timeout to get their run defense in but the real mistake by the Chargers was giving up the 10-yard run. If they had stuffed the Raiders, the Raiders probably would have punted and the game would have ended in a tie and both teams would be in the playoffs.
Instead, the Raiders and Steelers were in as the Chargers joined the Colts and Ravens on the outside looking in.
The Ravens started out 8-1 and lost their last six, five by a total of eight points. Twice coach John Harbaugh went for two at the end of games and the Ravens didn’t convert and lost both games.
Another surprise was San Francisco’s win over the Rams that knocked the Saints out of the playoffs and gave the 49ers a wild card berth. The Rams had already clinched the division title but are now the fourth seed.
Tennessee, as expected, clinched the top seed by beating the Texans and Buffalo clinched AFC East by beating the Jets. That relegated New England to a wild card spot although they lost to Miami anyway and limped into the playoffs, losing three of last four.
Miami fired Coach Brian Flores despite the victory. They were eliminated last week. He became the first coach to win seven in a row after losing seven in a row and wound up winning eight of his last nine games and was still fired.
Green Bay had clinched a bye and lost a meaningless game to Detroit and that cost the Lions the No. 1 pick since the Jaguars clinched it despite the win over Indianapolis.
So the Packers and Titans will be home this weekend enjoy a bye while the other six division winners will host the six wild card teams. Now the question is whether any of the six wild card teams, including the two seventh seeds – Pittsburgh and Philadelphia.
They wouldn’t be in the postseason if they had added a seventh team in each conference to the playoffs. They get a chance to show they deserved to be playoff teams.