10 biggest disappointments of NFL Week 17
The NFL regular season is over, and we know the 12 playoff teams that will be chasing the Super Bowl this year. For others, Sunday brought the bitter end, or raised new questions heading into the most important stretch of the season. It’s those teams who will be left licking their wounds — some even while preparing for another game next week.
Here are ten big disappointments from the final week of the NFL season.
Referees, NFL at end of Seahawks-49ers game
There’s no way around it: the referees on the field missed a blatant pass interference by San Francisco on 3rd-and-goal at the end of “Sunday Night Football.” The refs missing the call is bad, but what was equally bad — if not worse — was the lack of a booth review. The NFL now has the ability to intercede and correct a badly missed pass interference call such as this one, yet they failed to act. The Seahawks came up short on 4th-and-goal (a good call by the officials), but the missed pass interference was a game-changer. That was the difference between the 49ers having the top seed and the Packers getting it; the difference between the Saints getting a bye and having to play in the wild card round; and the Seahawks having the fifth seed rather than the third.
Pete Carroll, Seahawks coaches
The NFL and referees missed a pass interference on 3rd-and-goal, but that doesn’t absolve the Seahawks’ coaches from their mistakes. Seattle inexplicably took a delay of game penalty on 2nd-and-goal in the final minute. How did they have a full play clock to execute a play and make that error in that situation? Because of the penalty, the ball was moved back from the one to the six, and they had to sub out Marshawn Lynch from the goal-line package. Seattle was unable to get in on three straight pass plays after that and did themselves no favors in the 26-21 loss.
Tom Brady, QB, Patriots
The Patriots were iffy on both sides of the ball Sunday, and Brady was definitely at the heart of all of New England’s offensive issues. He threw for 221 yards against a secondary that has been eviscerated time and time again this season. He passed for two touchdowns while being picked off once. Brady’s supporting cast is weak, and this year he doesn’t look like the all-conquering Hall of Famer he has always been as he battles an elbow injury. The switch could come on in the playoffs, but the Patriots have reason for concern at this point.
Stephon Gilmore, CB, Patriots
Gilmore has been the consensus best corner in the game in recent years, but he got torched on Sunday by an unlikely opponent. Primarily assigned to DeVante Parker, Gilmore was thoroughly beaten, and openly admitted after the loss that he felt like he let his teammates down. Parker caught 11 passes for 137 yards and a touchdown. That kind of stat line just doesn’t happen against Gilmore, and if he shuts Parker down, it’s hard to see how Miami wins the game.
Baker Mayfield, QB, Browns
On Sunday, Mayfield had a bad game to finish off a bad season. Against a lowly Bengals team with nothing to play for, he went 12-for-27 for 279 yards with three touchdowns and a miserable three interceptions. Before the game, he had words with a heckling fan, basically summing up a lot of problems with Mayfield. His confidence is admirable and perhaps what the Browns need, but talk is cheap when Mayfield plays that badly. Perhaps a new head coach will be able to help him.
Aaron Rodgers, QB, Packers
The Packers did what they had to do on Sunday, escaping from Detroit with a first-round bye in the NFC playoffs. Remarkably, they mostly did it in spite of Rodgers. He made a few good throws — his touchdown pass to Davante Adams was vintage — but this was one of the worst games the Green Bay quarterback has ever played. He missed open receivers, often overthrowing them and costing his team yards and touchdowns. Aaron Jones helped prop him up on the team’s final drive that led to Mason Crosby’s decisive field goal. If Rodgers plays like that in the playoffs, the Packers will not last long.
Admittedly, the Raiders faced long odds to make the playoffs. They needed the Titans to lose to Houston, the Colts to beat Jacksonville, and more. Still, one might have expected a little bit more determination out of the Raiders this week. 477 yards of offense only resulted in 15 points — a truly horrendous ratio — as Derek Carr struggled to make big plays near the goal line. They had a chance to win with a late two-point conversion, but failed. This is a unit that needs to become a lot more efficient going forward.
Jameis Winston, QB, Buccaneers
A few weeks ago, it looked like a sure bet that Winston would be back as Tampa Bay’s quarterback in 2020. He very well still might, but the last two weeks haven’t done much to help his stock. He followed up last week’s mess against Houston with a game in which he threw his 29th and 30th interceptions of the season, the second one an overtime pick-six that ended the game. After the game, Bruce Arians seemed openly frustrated with the mistakes his quarterback is still making. The decision on Winston won’t be an easy one, because the former No. 1 pick just has too many games like this one.
Duck Hodges, QB, Steelers
The hope for Hodges was that facing a lot of Baltimore Ravens’ backups would be beneficial and might be enough to help the Steelers win the game and keep their playoff hopes alive. It turns out Hodges is just a bad quarterback. He completed just nine of 25 passes, while falling short of 100 yards passing, and doing nothing to help Pittsburgh’s offense. They should have Ben Roethlisberger back next year, and that’s a good thing, because Hodges has proven repeatedly that he just isn’t an NFL quarterback.
The Colts’ game against the Jacksonville Jaguars was meaningless from their point of view, and they certainly played like it. Jacoby Brissett completed just 12 of his 25 pass attempts for 162 yards against a defense that hasn’t been good in quite some time. Then there’s the defense, which gave up 353 total yards to a Jacksonville team that has looked finished for weeks. Gardner Minshew’s three touchdown passes will be a nice confidence booster, but they came against a team that appeared to be mailing it in.