The New Year’s Day match up between the Redskins and the Eagles was the Skins’ last chance to end the season on a high note. Though neither team had anything left to play for (They were both already eliminated from playoff contention.), they still had an opportunity to play hard and show what they were made of one last time. While Andy Reid’s Eagles did just that, the Redskins looked beaten down, uninterested, and just piss poor.
They finished the season 5-11, one game below last year’s unimpressive 6-10. Two seasons under Mike Shanahan’s leadership has not done much for the struggling Redskins who have been unable to advance to the playoffs since 2007. 2007 was the last year they had a winning record. They split even in 2008 under then-coach Jim Zorn. In fact, they end the season in last place for the fourth straight year, and this season was the worst for Shanahan in his 17 years as an NFL head coach.
Grossman’s passes were inconsistent and often incomplete (or intercepted), with the Redskins having a hard time converting on third downs or reaching the end zone, despite several opportunities. After having to settle for a field goal in the second quarter, kicker Graham Gano’s field goal was blocked for the fifth time this season, giving Philly a 10-0 lead at halftime.
Roy Helu scored the only TD for the Skins in the third quarter, with a 27-yard field goal from Gano, cutting the Eagles’ lead from 13-10 going into the final quarter. But instead of capitalizing on their momentum, the Redskins fell apart, allowing 21 unanswered points and falling to their division rival in their final game of the season. What’s next for the Redskins remains to be seen, but it’s obvious that something’s got to change.
With the Skins and Eagles out of it, the NFC East was up for grabs with the Cowboys and Giants playing for the division title Sunday night. It was a game dominated by the Giants in the first half, who put up 21 unanswered points. But the second half was reminiscent of their season; they seemed to be collapsing after a brilliant start. They were unable to convert for a single third down until the fourth quarter. Contrarily, the Cowboys came alive in the second half. They scored their first touchdown and were poised to score another before the G-men’s defense stopped Tony Romo on 4th & 1 deep in the red zone. That play turned the game around for New York, who went on to score a field goal along with a game-sealing TD with under two minutes to play. The 31-14 loss ended Dallas’ season, while it sent the Giants to the playoffs for the first time since ’08.
With the Giants garnering the No. 4 seed and final playoff spot, the playoff picture is now set, with Wild Card Weekend games on Saturday. Despite a three-game losing streak, Tim Tebow and the Broncos were able to back into the AFC West Division Title thanks to a loss by the Raiders. They will face Ben Roethlisberger and the Pittsburgh Steelers next week. The Giants, meanwhile, will face the Atlanta Falcons, who are red hot coming off a 45-24 victory against the Bucs. The Saints will play the Lions for the other NFC Wild Card spot, while the Bengals and Texas duke it out for the AFC.
The Packers, 49ers, Patriots and Ravens all earned first round bye weeks, and will face the winner of the wild card games in the divisional round the second week of January. Will Aaron Rodgers and the Packers be able to sustain their near perfection or will they fall to another NFC team before making it to the Super Bowl? Drew Brees and the Saints (13-3) seem to be the NFC team favored to make it to the Super Bowl, despite the Packers’ 15-1 record. Meanwhile, the AFC’s Bengals and Texans are seeking their first league title.