A memorable last afternoon of the NFL season
The last day of any NFL season can bring a lot of drama as playoff qualifications and seeds are sorted out. This season’s finale gave us a lot of notable bullet points. The following are those I collected throughout the afternoon based on a variety of Twitter entries and announcements on Fox, CBS, and the NFL Network.
- The Oakland Raiders broke the all-time records for the most penalties and the most penalty yards in a season. They also lost to the Chargers to knock themselves out of the playoffs (Denver lost and thus backed into the playoffs and will face Pittsburgh next week).
- Speaking of the Chargers, Phillip Rivers’ fourth-quarter touchdown pass, a 43-yarder to Malcolm Floyd, allowed the Raiders another spot in the record book — Oakland now have the all-timers for the most TD passes ever allowed by a team (31).
- Rivers became only the fifth NFL quarterback to have back-to-back 4,500-yard passing seasons, but his Chargers did not make the post-season.
- And, Richard Goodman’s kickoff return was the longest in San Diego Chargers’ history (105 yards).
- The San Francisco 49ers capped off a remarkable turnaround (6 wins last season to 13 wins this year) with a win at St. Louis. The 49ers’ kicker David Akers broke the record for most points scored in a season, not including touchdowns (165).
- San Francisco’s +28 turnover differential tied the 2010 Patriots for the second-best in the NFL since 1970.
- And, 49er quarterback Alex Smith, who does nothing spectacular but instead makes no mistakes, finished the season by throwing 159 straight passes without an interception.
- Green Pay quarterback Aaron Rogers took New Years Day off. His back-up did what no Packer QB has ever done in a game — Matt Flynn threw for 480 yards and six touchdowns to lead the Pack to an incredible 45-41 win. Lions’ quarterback Matthew Stafford didn’t do too badly either. He passed for 502 yards, the fifth-most ever in an NFL game. A Packers-Lions game with nearly 1,000 yard passing is about as common as the Tennessee Vols scoring a point in the second half against good SEC teams.
- The Packers finished the season with 560 points scored, the second-best in a single season in NFL history (New England in 2007 scored 589 points).
- The Detroit-Green Bay game is the first game in NFL history in which both quarterbacks passed for at least 400 games and 5 TDs each. The combined 971 net passing yards was the most ever.
- The Colts won on the season’s last day by losing the football game — Andrew Luck will be arriving soon from Palo Alto. My guess is that #18 will not be back.
- Saints’ running back Darren Sproles, the free-agent signing of the season (to replace Reggie Bush), set the NFL record for most combined yards gained in a season (2,695 yards).
- Saints’ quarterback Drew Brees didn’t sit out today. He ended his season by setting single-season records for passing yards (5,476), completions (468), completion percentage (71.2%), 300-yard games (13), and consecutive 300-yard games (7).
- Today’s win by New England was the 11th time this season that a team trailed by at least 17 points and won — the most such wins ever in an NFL season.
- And in the last game of the afternoon to finish, the Arizona Cardinals defeated Seattle 23-20 in overtime to set the NFL record for the most OT wins by a team in a season (4).
This last day of the NFL regular season may just leave its best for last. Dallas plays the Giants in New Jersey to decide the NFC East winner, with the loser going home. Yes, tonight, the playoffs start early. And it makes me think what the Philadelphia Eagles are thinking, watching their two most bitter rivals decide their division when the Birds finished the season playing better than either.