5 Key Moments From the 2016 NFL Regular Season

Posted: January 6, 2017 in Uncategorized

Is it just me or was that the quickest 17 weeks of football ever? Labor Day feels like it was a month ago. I blinked, took a shit, and now it’s January and there’s already another full NFL season in the books. Sad!

The 2016 season was a polarizing one for the league. It was the first year without Peyton Manning, Tom Brady was suspended for the first four games, and there was a LOT of bitching about the overall quality of play. I found myself complaining about it from time to time, but I always reminded myself that we need to treasure these five months from September through January. It’s a special time of year where everyone can agree that the world is a better place when it’s football season.

I quickly scanned my brain and came up with five moments from the 2016 season that impacted the league the most. It was actually pretty easy. All I did was look at every playoff team and figure out what the most important moment of their season was, and then see how that ranked from a league-wide perspective.

Here are my picks for the five most important moments of the 2016 NFL regular season…

 

1. Cowboys Comeback to Beat Steelers on Road 35-30 – Week 10

This was the moment we found out that the Cowboys and their two rookie stars were for real. Until this game, Dallas was seen as a nice story, but the nation was waiting for Dak and Zeke to come back to earth and start making the mistakes that normal rookies do. Dak fumbled early, but came back strong to have a great day (22/32, 319/2 TDs), and out duel Big Ben in a wild back and forth game. Zeke Elliot scored two touchdowns in the final two minutes to give the Cowboys their first Big Brass Balls win of the season. They went on to finish 13-3 and grab the 1 seed in the NFC. Make no mistake, this was the game that really got them rolling.

 

2. Aaron Rogers “Run the Table” Guarantee After 4-6 Start – Week 11

To be fair, he never “guaranteed” anything. “I think we can run the table,” was his exact quote. Either way, the Packers looked like absolute shit after losing four games in a row midway through the season. The defense was giving up over 30 points a game, and more importantly, people legitimately started to question Aaron Rodgers as a quarterback for the first time in his career. So what did he do? Calm as always, he threw out the idea of running the table and winning the division. Of course the media ran wild with the quote, and the “table” was set. Since then, he’s played near perfect football and the Packers did indeed win six straight and the NFC North crown. Rodgers hasn’t thrown a pick in the win streak, compared to 16 touchdowns. The Packers look like a real Super Bowl contender, and it all turned around with Rodgers’ guarantee.

I’d also be remiss if I didn’t include a picture of Olivia Munn. So here is my personal favorite…

olivia-munn

3. The Derek Carr Injury – Week 16

carr

The Raiders were back. They were 12-3 and rolling into what looked like a first round bye and perhaps even a number 1 seed in the AFC playoffs. Then, in the second half of a week 16 game, a kick straight to the dick. Derek Carr broke his leg. I remember that afternoon when Twitter was blowing up with news of Carr’s injury. There was almost an eerie, somber feeling that fell over all NFL fans. Everyone I texted had the same reaction. Damn. That really, really sucks. Every interview I’ve heard with Derek Carr has made me think that he’s nothing but a straight up good dude who everyone likes. You know how with most big time professional athletes (especially QBs), you feel like you’re getting the same generic bullshit answers and fake personality in every interview? Not with Carr. I always felt like I was getting the real him. So when his MVP-caliber season ended just two weeks before the start of the playoffs, we all felt for him and the Raiders. Now, they’re down to their third string QB and will be lucky to get to the Divisional round. Bummer of the year. Hopefully he can come back and pick up where he left off in 2016. Would love to see him become one of the great QBs of the next generation.

 

4. Seahawks Beat Patriots on Road 31-24 – Week 10

Yes, I’m a Pats fan. And yes, I believe that the Seahawks going into Foxboro and beating the Patriots on a Sunday night was one of the key moments of the year. This was the first time the two teams had met since the greatest Super Bowl of all time. There was plenty of buzz and it had a playoff feel. Both teams played at a high level as the game went back and forth throughout. Seattle took the late lead but Tom Brady marched the Patriots down the field to give them four downs inside the 5 to punch it into the end zone. After a strange series of plays, Brady missed Gronk on fourth down and the Seahawks escaped with a thrilling 31-24 win.

First off, I think it was a key moment of the season because it came at a point where there was a lot of talk about how bad the games had been this year. Up until that point there hadn’t really been a marquee game where everyone was happy with the quality of play. All of the national games had sucked and the NFL was getting bashed for it’s on-field product. Then, week 10 brought us 2 potential super bowl previews and everyone quickly forgot about how bad things had been.

Secondly, from a Patriots fan’s perspective, I was happy they lost. We as Pats fans have learned that sometimes these mid-season blunders end up re-focusing the team for the long haul. It also was the only loss of the year with Tom Brady at quarterback. Can you imagine if they finished 15-1? All the talk would be how they hadn’t lost with Brady playing. They would be transported back to 2007 and all the added pressures that went along with the “undefeated” season. No thanks. I’ve seen how that story ends. I’ll gladly take an epic week 10 loss than an epic Super Bowl collapse…again.

 

5. Chiefs OT Win in Denver – Week 12

The league’s best division had its most important game in week 12 when the two 7-4 teams faced off on a Sunday night in Denver. Both teams were trying to keep pace with Oakland and keep their playoff hopes alive. The first half was a snoozer but the offense came alive in the second half with the teams combining for 36 points before sending the game into OT. It came down to a field goal contest, and the late-Gary Kubiak (damn you, 2017!) decided to attempt a deep kick with 2 minutes left in OT. It missed, and Kansas City used their great field position to put themselves in range with a chance to win as the clock was under a minute. Cairo Santos hooked it and the kick clunked hard off the left upright. Nobody really knew if it went in for about three seconds until the refs signaled it was good. A very exciting finish to an important game. From there, the Chiefs pretty much controlled their own destiny and grabbed the 2 seed and a bye once Derek Carr went down. They now look like a legit threat to the Patriots in the AFC, but if they had lost in Denver in week 12 things could have been drastically different.

 

Honorable Mention:

The best, worst game ever played. The Sunday Night Seahawks/Cardinals 6-6 Tie in Week 7. I’ve never been more enthralled by such a shitty game. Those 15 minutes of overtime were absolutely electric. You thought the game was over 3 different times but the kickers puked on themselves over and over. It was like a contest to see who could get to the point of dry-heaving first. Really amazing stuff.

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