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Forty-eight things we learned in Week 17

*Ah, this is familiar. *

The Patriots are officially kings of the AFC once again, clinching the top seed with a win over the Dolphins. Tom Brady staked his claim for the MVP with a dominant curtain call, making history and finding a new go-to-receiver in the process. More on that below.

The last week of the regular season also saw the return of Tony Romo under center for the Cowboys, albeit not for long. His lone drive of "2016" was short, but sweet, ending with a touchdown pass and a gleeful celebration with the elated Cowboys bench. See, everything's all right. No QB controversy here ... yet!

The Chiefs and Raiders swapped spots; Washington took a tumble out of playoff contention; and Seattle slunk into the three seed.

Here's what else we learned this week:

  1. The superior team controlled this one from the opening whistle, as Tom Brady led a 13-play touchdown drive on the game's first possession. By halftime, the Patriots had churned out 261 yards to just 105 for the Dolphins. With three more touchdown passes bringing his TD-to-INT ratio to 28:2, Brady strengthened his MVP case by breaking Nick Foles' 2013 record. The 39-year-old now owns two of the top three single-season TD-to-INT ratios in NFL history. Brady closed out the season with the second-best passer rating (112.2) and completion rate (67.4) of his legendary career. If he does capture MVP honors, he will become the oldest player to win the award, bypassing 38-year-old Giants quarterback -- and former Marlboro Man -- Charley Conerly, who was the league's Most Outstanding Player in 1959.
  1. Miami was simply outclassed by a more talented opponent, perhaps a preview of what's to come at Pittsburgh in the wild-card round of the playoffs. After shredding the half-hearted, undisciplined secondaries of the Jets and Bills the past two weeks, Matt Moore was limited to short slants, crossing routes and check downs against the league's top-scoring defense. One game after highlighting Buffalo's carefree attitude toward tackling with a 206-yard effort, Jay Ajayi was held under the century mark for the seventh time in the past eight games. The Dolphins defense surrendered 396 yards, ensuring that this year's inconsistent unit has allowed the most yards in franchise history. Unless Ajayi can recapture dominant Week 6 form, it's hard to imagine this team pulling off an upset versus the Steelers next week.
  1. Wide receivers Julian Edelman and Michael Floyd played starring roles for New England's offense. Floyd powered through a crowd of defenders for a 14-yard touchdown, showed fancy footwork with a toe-dragging sideline catch and sprung Edelman for a 77-yard touchdown with a vicious block on Tony Lippett. More of a complementary player while rounding into form following offseason foot surgery, Edelman was targeted on 26 percent of Brady's attempts through Rob Gronkowski's lung injury in Week 10. Since losing the All Pro tight end, Brady has run his aerial attack through Edelman, increasing his target rate to roughly 40 percent. Edelman is averaging 7.1 receptions and 93.5 yards over the past eight games compared to 5.1 and 44.8 in the first eight.

-- Chris Wesseling

  1. Tony Romo looked great in his first regular-season action in more than a year. The veteran briefly replaced Dak Prescott in the second quarter. Romo took two deep shots (one earned a DPI) and displayed his trademark darts over the middle, going 3-of-4 passing for 29 yards and a TD toss in one drive. There was no rust on the 36-year-old quarterback. Romo's trade stock couldn't be higher -- Yay! Look forward to months of Romo rumors.
  1. Carson Wentz's finale was a microcosm of his rookie season. The quarterback came out firing, completing his first five passes. Then he sputtered, missing receivers high and wide. Wentz was under siege all day by the Cowboys' pass rush and got no help from his wide receivers. The rookie overcame his struggles by heavily targeting tight end Zach Ertz (13 catches for 139 yards, two TDs) in the second half. The rookie's finish displayed all the promise that made the Eagles' brass drool before the season. Wentz will head into the offseason needing to tweak his elongated mechanics (dropping his elbow leads to sailed passes) and footwork. On balance, for a rookie that many said needed a year of seasoning before he was ready to play, Wentz's first season should be viewed as a success. Now he needs to grow in his first full offseason, and Howie Roseman needs to get Wentz some skill-position help.
  1. With nothing on the line, the Cowboys rested their star players. Ezekiel Elliott dressed but never left the bench (dashing Jerry Jones' claim Zeke could go after the rookie rushing record). Linebacker Sean Lee also dressed but was tied to the bench. Dez Bryant and Jason Witten both started but didn't make it to halftime before being yanked (Witten finishes the regular season 17-yards shy of the Cowboys' all-time receiving record). Dallas' offensive line started reserve left tackle Emmett Cleary and backup left guard Joe Looney. With a bye before hosting a playoff game, Dallas hopes to get healthy ahead of their Super Bowl run.

-- Kevin Patra

  1. Matt Ryan directed one of the most extraordinary first-half eviscerations in recent memory, reaching the end zone on the opening drive for the sixth consecutive week -- the longest stretch of the Super Bowl era. Clicking on all cylinders, Ryan's juggernaut racked up 18 first downs on 28 plays en route to five touchdowns on the first five possessions. How impressive was Atlanta's onslaught? At one point in the second quarter, Ryan had faced just one third down on four touchdown drives while the Falcons had yet to possess the ball for more than four minutes in the game. It was fitting that the home crowd erupted in "MVP" chants as Ryan's offense exploded for 35 first-half points -- the most allowed by the Saints in the opening half during the Sean Payton era. Leading the highest-scoring attack in the league, Ryan will finish with an NFL-best 117.1 passer rating to go with the highest yards-per-attempt figure (9.26) ever by a quarterback with 400 or more passes in a season. Unless Aaron Rodgers throws at least three touchdowns Sunday night, Ryan will also stand atop the list with 38 passing scores. By any fair measure, he's the most valuable player of 2016.
  1. It was fair to question Atlanta's apparent defensive improvement after limiting the lifeless offenses of Los Angeles, San Francisco and Carolina to an average of 14.3 points over the past three weeks. Although the Falcons deserve credit for keeping the Saints' high-powered offense in check until garbage time, the red-zone defense is among the worst in the league and remains a concern entering the postseason.
  1. Three members of the Saints offense reached noteworthy milestones in a losing effort. Drew Brees cleared 5,000 passing yards for the fifth time in his illustrious career. All other quarterbacks in NFL history have combined to reach the mark just four times. A 38-yard run in the fourth quarter propelled Mark Ingram past the 1,000-yard milestone for the first time in his six-year career. Wideout Michael Thomas became the 17th rookie to reach 1,000 receiving yards since the 1970 merger, breaking Marques Colston's franchise rookie records with 1,137 yards and nine touchdown catches. He also broke Reggie Bush's Saints rookie record with 92 receptions.

-- Chris Wesseling

  1. Oakland's loss coupled with a Kansas City Chiefs win sinks the Raiders to the No. 5 seed. Jack Del Rio's team will head to Houston next week. Losing a first-round bye is a big blow for the Raiders who could have used the extra week to prep their backup quarterbacks. On the other hand, Houston is the division winner everyone in the AFC playoffs wanted to face. The Texans have as many quarterback question marks as the Raiders.
  1. A week after losing Derek Carr to a broken leg, the Raiders' quarterback situation got murkier. Backup Matt McGloin exited in the first half with a shoulder injury after getting battered. He did not return. Prior to exiting, McGloin did not look good. The fourth-year quarterback was scatter-shot, completing just six of 11 passes for 21 yards (1.9 average). McGloin airmailed Amari Cooper on what should have been a 60-plus yard TD pass. The Broncos secondary isn't a good matchup for most starting quarterbacks, and it made McGloin look every bit a backup.
  1. Connor Cook looked like a rookie thrust into a bad situation early. His fumble to open the second half came as he scrambled up the pocket and didn't protect the football. Once he settled in, Cook displayed some tools, and an ability to get through his progressions. He led the Raiders' only scoring drive with some solid darts. Cook finished 14-of-21 passing for 150 yards, a touchdown and an interception. We're not going to take too much away from Cook's relief appearance. The Raiders were down big when he took over against one of the best secondaries in the NFL. It won't get any easier for the rookie if he gets the nod next week in Houston. Cook looked like the better quarterback in this game, so it will be interesting to see if Del Rio sticks with the rookie even if McGloin is cleared.

-- Kevin Patra

  1. The Chiefs' formula is so similar every week. They win the turnover battle, finishing up 2-1 Sunday. They get big plays in the secondary, with beautiful interceptions from Marcus Peters and Daniel Sorensen. They get a dose of magic from Tyreek Hill, who scored a touchdown over 60 yards for the fourth straight game, the first player to do so since Kansas City's Dante Hall in 2003. (This time it came on a 95-yard punt return.) His pure speed and ability to make pros look silly is unlike anything I've ever seen. Kansas City has ridden this formula all the way to 12-4 and the AFC West title, thanks to Oakland's loss in Denver on Sunday. The Chiefs are the No. 2 in the AFC.
  1. The Chiefs' formula has been upgraded lately because of their increasingly explosive offense. They scored on six of their first seven possessions, with the one Chargers stop coming on an interception that was tipped at the line of scrimmage. Andy Reid is on a playcalling roll, with Alex Smith finding receivers wide open on play after play. They were third among all NFL teams over the last four games in yards-per-play, and that should only go up after this game. This dominance came despite missing starting running back Spencer Ware.
  1. Chiefs star tight end Travis Kelce was on the sideline for the first drive of the game. He returned for the second drive, which started in the second quarter. We'll see if Reid has an update on Kelce after the game.

-- Gregg Rosenthal

  1. Wideout Cobi Hamilton's 26-yard touchdown grab from quarterback Landry Jones handed Pittsburgh the win with 2:57 left in this overtime "showdown" -- guaranteeing Cleveland the No. 1 pick in the 2017 NFL Draft. The Browns had a chance to win the game outright in regulation before running back Isaiah Crowell fumbled the ball away at Pittsburgh's 3-yard line with 1:04 left on the clock. Along the way, the Browns also saw cornerback Briean Boddy-Calhoun fumble a would-be pick six at the pylon, leading to a Pittsburgh touchback. It was that kind of day for the ultra-snake-bitten Browns, whose 1-15 record marks the worst season in franchise history. The only way from here is up.
  1. Locked into the AFC's third seed -- they'll host the Dolphins next week in the wild-card -- Pittsburgh sat quarterback Ben Roethlisberger in favor of Jones, who came out of the gate insanely rusty with running back Le'Veon Bell and wideout Antonio Brown also out of the lineup. In their absence, Pittsburgh managed just 52 first-half yards before Jones engineered four touchdown drives down the stretch. He doesn't see the field particularly well and deserves some of the blame for his four sacks, but Jones' 277 yards and three passing scores look just fine with half the roster in street clothes. It's fair to wonder, though, if this could be it for Jones in Pittsburgh with the 27-year-old set to hit free agency.
  1. The Browns used Sunday to take one last look at quarterback Robert Griffin III. The veteran passer threw his only two touchdowns of the year in the first half, but also tossed a red-zone pick and fumbled away an ill-fated shotgun snap on back-to-back offensive plays. His 29-of-40 performance for 232 yards looks better on paper. Amid chit-chat of this being some sort of "audition" for Griffin, the Browns simply cannot rely on him as their Week 1 starter in 2017. Whether they trade for a trustworthy/durable veteran or find a starter in the draft, the search for a franchise signal-caller rages on.

-- Marc Sessler

  1. With the win, Seattle nabs the NFC's third seed and will host a wild-card game next weekend. In Sunday's postseason tune-up, the 'Hawks "piled up" a whopping 10 yards in the first quarter before a pair of Niners fumbles helped Seattle build a 19-14 lead at the half. Quarterback Russell Wilson lifted the attack with long gains to pass-catchers Doug Baldwin, Jimmy Graham and Jermaine Kearse, but we remain concerned about this offense. The Seahawks piled up just 20 yards rushing in the first half and 90 on the day, the 10th time this season they've plowed for fewer than 100 yards. Seattle has earned our trust in January, but this isn't the same run-heavy team we used to know. To the leaky O-line's credit, Wilson took just one sack on the afternoon.
  1. At 2-14, the lowly Niners have tied franchise-worst finishes from 1978, 1979 and 2004. With general manager Trent Baalke already fired and Chip Kelly "likely" to be next, the 49ers coach came out of the gate loose and daring, going for it twice on fourth down during an opening quarter that saw the Niners mount a 14-3 lead while controlling the ball for 13-plus minutes. The Seahawks defense took over from there, holding San Francisco to six punts, a fumble, a drive that ended on downs and six marches that generated five-or-fewer yards before Colin Kaepernick -- playing one of his better games -- dialed up a touchdown to Garrett Celek with 5:42 remaining. It's more than fair to wonder if Kelly is done at the NFL level.

UPDATE: The Niners officially fired Kelly and Baalke on Sunday night.

  1. With the Browns losing to Pittsburgh, the 49ers have "earned" the No. 2 overall pick in the draft. Will that be enough to lure a top-flight coach and general manager? This is a proud organization, but what can CEO Jed York promise to potential suitors? The Niners harbor a bottom-of-the-barrel roster and nothing but questions at quarterback. The biggest selling point might be the reality that York can't afford to pay three fired coaches at the same time. Whoever takes this job will be given a legitimate shot to stick around.

-- Marc Sessler

  1. While the Ravens' offense sputtered for most of the afternoon, there was a palpable excitement every time Steve Smith Sr. touched the ball. In his last NFL game (Smith confirmed as much as he left the field Sunday), the legendary wideout found himself in the throes of a scuffle with a Bengals safety 12 years younger than him. Shawn Williams knocked Smith out of bounds from the back while Smith was tracking an uncatchable ball. The action prompted the outgoing vet to seek Williams out the next time he touched the ball, lunging at his adversary like an underwater missile. I understand that this kind of behavior gets praised in some players and admonished in others, but there was just something perpetually likeable and enjoyable about Smith. This was evidenced by the greeting line waiting for him as he exited the field in Cincinnati, which appeared to be a mile long. Should this be it, Smith's last game ended with three catches for 34 yards and, of course, Smith handing some memorabilia to a young fan as he walked off.
  1. There is no Keep Marvin Lewis take that will energize Bengals fans this time of year, but I do think he deserves the chance to coach out his contract. Lewis has a heavy hand in Cincinnati's personnel and has created some incredible three-deep situations at certain spots. Rex Burkhead, of all people, exploded against the Ravens on Sunday, carrying the ball 27 times for 119 yards and two touchdowns. With Gio Bernard and Jeremy Hill on the roster for next season, it wouldn't be surprising to see Burkhead get some looks in free agency and fly the coop. Lewis has an eye for talent, which is undeniable. He's built a more-than-respectable coaching tree. This is not a Jeff Fisher running-on-fumes situation and while the playoff win drought is glaring, I don't think there's anything more enticing for ownership than a good, motivated football coach. Lewis doesn't want that to be his legacy in Cincinnati and he's good enough to prevent that from happening.
  1. The Ravens, like the Bengals, have a good football coach but do need to iron some things out in house. Marty Mornhinweg was fine this year considering the circumstances, but as NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport mentioned this weekend, there will be some excellent offensive minds hitting the market this offseason. Greg Roman was the name Rapoport mentioned specifically. Like the Bengals, this Ravens team has the vehicle to make the personnel work. Mike Wallace just capped his first 1,000-yard season since 2011, which was not an accident. Joe Flacco should be better than he was this year with more distance from his torn ACL. What was on display Sunday, though, was not imaginative enough to make it work. The AFC North is only getting better.

-- Conor Orr

  1. Relax, cheeseheads: Your Green Bay Packers are NFC North champions. Green Bay's season-saving six-game winning streak has taken them all the way back to the playoffs and the top of the division. The Packers will host the New York Giants next Sunday afternoon (4:40 p.m. ET) at Lambeau Field. Meanwhile, the Lions failed to clinch their first division title since 1993 and will have to settle for the sixth seed. Trading a playoff game at Ford Field for a short-week, prime time matchup (8:15 p.m. ET on Saturday) with the Seattle Seahawks and their 12th man doesn't seem like a square deal, but that's what happens when you lose three straight to end the season.
  1. Has Aaron Rodgers ever been hotter? The Packers quarterback made good on his promise to "run the table" and did so with flying colors. In Green Bay's final seven games, Rodgers produced an insane 18:0 TD-to-INT ratio; that closing salvo was the first seven-week period during which he didn't throw an interception. His four TD strikes on Sunday night made him the season leader in TD passes (40). Rodgers' performance late in the year may have been too late to swing him the MVP, given his company (Matt Ryan, Tom Brady, Ezekiel Elliott), but it shouldn't be ignored as just another flash run.
  1. Sunday night's loss will likely go down as one of the more disappointing moments in Ford Field history, but the Lions weren't wholly to blame for the defeat. They simply ran into a buzzsaw in Rodgers' clock-killing offense. Detroit's shortcomings were recurring ones. Without Theo Riddick (injured reserve) and Dwayne Washington, the Lions failed to truly develop a running game behind Zach Zenner, who saw a career-high 20 carries for 69 yards. Detroit's league-worst running game will have an impossible matchup ahead in Seattle.

-- Jeremy Bergman

  1. Cousins was in line to play hero, but he couldn't finish the script. The Redskins quarterback bounced back from a scattershot first half to make some big throws during Washington's second-half 10-point comeback. Down three with 2:12 to go, Cousins started off hot too, completing four consecutive passes for 32 yards to get the 'Skins into opposing territory. But on the next play, Cousins, hurried by pressure, pump-faked and then threw a late pass over the middle intended for Pierre Garcon but intercepted by Rodgers-Cromartie. The pick was Cromartie's second of the game and killed Washington's playoff hopes.
  1. The Giants were locked into the fifth seed regardless of Sunday's result, so few could blame them for wanting to sit their important starters. But instead of resting Eli Manning and Co., coach Ben McAdoo let every player west of Odell Beckham play out the second half, a decision that proved crucial in the victory. Steve Spagnuolo's first-team defense crushed Washington's offensive line, tallying four sacks of Cousins -- three of which came from the secondary. Cromartie, Eli Apple and Landon Collins stayed in form on the back end, the former recording a sack and two picks. The best news for Giants fans? No one was seriously injured. New York will have to wait out the remainder of Sunday's slate to learn their next opponent.
  1. New York also saw its running game finally hit its stride, just in time for postseason play. Paced by Paul Perkins (102 yards), the Giants recorded 162 yards on the ground, their highest rushing total of the season. The consistency in the run game opens a wrinkle that New York didn't have before and keeps the ball out of Eli Manning's hands, which, depending on who you ask, is a plus. Perkins' yardage has increased progressively since Week 11 (16, 29, 38, 45, 56, 68). Are we in store for a 150-yard romping on Wild Card Weekend?

-- Jeremy Bergman

  1. If the Bills really were intent on evaluating EJ Manuel as a potential Tyrod Taylor replacement, the fourth-year quarterback made things very easy for Buffalo's brass. Manuel was completely ineffective against the Jets, completing 9 of 20 passes for 86 yards in the loss. He was eventually replaced by rookie Cardale Jones in the fourth quarter. Though Tyrod was relegated to a mournful look while wearing a Bills hoodie on the sideline, his future in Buffalo appears safe for now.
  1. The absence of Matt Forte from the Jets' backfield didn't prove to be an issue thanks to Bilal Powell. The sixth-year running back put in another strong performance, rushing for 122 yards on 22 carries to complement a decent effort by Ryan Fitzpatrick. In what very well could have been his final game with the Jets after being the big apple of Gang Green's offseason eye, Fitz completed 20 of 30 passes for 210 yards and two TDs. The biggest surprise, however, might have been coach Todd Bowles' decision not to give Christian Hackenberg some snaps in garbage time of a game with no postseason implications.
  1. In his season debut,  Jones didn't fare much better than Manuel. He finished completing six of 11 passes for 96 yards and an interception. He was part of a Bills' offensive effort that failed to gain any real traction against the Jets, especially after running back LeSean McCoy left the game in the first half with an ankle injury.

-- Austin Knoblauch

  1. What an unexpected turn of events for the quarterback conundrum in Houston. Tom Savage started again for the Texans and was predictably average at best, completing 5 of 8 passes for 25 yards before leaving to be evaluated for a concussion. A mix-up -- Savage being cleared, then re-examined at halftime and determined to have a concussion -- resulted in Brock Osweiler taking over and, against a Titans secondary that isn't much to write home about, going to work. Osweiler completed 21 of 40 passes for 253 yards and one touchdown, but often showed the same issues that plagued him. It leaves us with the multi-layered question of who plays quarterback next week for the Texans? Will Savage clear the concussion protocol? Would Bill O'Brien go with healthy Savage or Osweiler? Stay tuned.
  1. DeAndre Hopkins caught a deep pass for the first time in what's felt like forever, but even then, was stopped short of the end zone. Hopkins finished with seven receptions for 123 yards as Osweiler spread it among eight receivers. It's somewhat encouraging, but frankly, Houston still has a mess under center.
  1. The victorious conclusion to what was a promising season for the Titans will feel great today, but ultimately be bittersweet. Knowing where Tennessee stood and how it played for much of the year, the Titans falling short of the playoffs will be a tough pill to swallow when the postseason gets underway. But there's reason for hope, as the Titans demonstrated they have the beginnings of a contending team, one that fought to finish the season on a high note. They did that on the back of a serviceable Matt Cassel, proving they aren't far off from winning the AFC South in the future.

-- Nick Shook

  1. In a game that meant little, Matt Barkley found a way to lose any steam he'd built up as starting quarterback for the Bears. The signal-caller tossed two interceptions (one was deflected) and was ineffective for a Bears offense that made the Vikings' defense look good, no, great again, capped by Everson Griffen's fumble recovery and return for a touchdown.
  1. Congrats to Sam Bradford on capping the most accurate passing season in NFL history. The former Oklahoma Sooner finished 2016 with a 71.2 completion percentage, which validates Minnesota's trade for him, I guess? Ultimately, the Vikings missed the playoffs and the gamble didn't exactly pan out, but it wasn't Bradford's fault. It was a nice way to enter the offseason, then, in tossing three touchdown passes in a blowout win over the Bears.
  1. Kyle Rudolph is a bright spot that the Vikings can point to heading into the offseason. The athletic tight end caught 11 passes for 117 yards and a touchdown, including a grab that required some extra work through defenders to cross the goal line. No matter who lines up under center for Minnesota in 2017, Rudolph will be a reliable target.

-- Nick Shook

  1. Carson Palmer has a long history of exceptional play at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum and didn't disappoint Sunday, completing 20 of 38 passes for 255 yards, three touchdowns and one interception. It took him a bit to get going, but thanks to a swarming defense, the Cardinals worked under little pressure and coasted to an easy win.
  1. In a game between two teams that will be cleaning out lockers tomorrow morning, the main goal is to build momentum heading into the offseason and avoid catastrophic injury. It looked like the Cardinals failed on the second part with David Johnson, who was carted off the field with a serious leg injury. Turns out it's not that bad, according to coach Bruce Arians, who said there's nothing serious and he's hoping there's no ligament issue.
  1. At the end of a lost season, with players floundering at all positions and the end of Week 17 as the lone salvation in sight, the Rams played like they were ready for vacation. Jared Goff was again abysmal, completing 13 of 20 passes for 120 yards and, thanks to a shoddy line, ending up on the receiving end of frequent crushing blows delivered by Cardinals defenders. Los Angeles' offense was again lifeless and didn't put up so much as a whimper against an Arizona defense that forced turnovers and harassed any Ram who touched the pigskin. The Rams will need to take a long, hard look at their organization from top to bottom in the offseason, which begins Monday morning.

-- Nick Shook

  1. For the first 57 minutes, Cam Newton's performance was as bad as Mariah Carey's in Times Square on New Year's Eve. Several of Newton's throws didn't have any zip, and the Buccaneers easily could have picked off the quarterback more than three times. The defending MVP led the Panthers offense down the field, however, for a dramatic touchdown with 17 seconds left to cut Tampa's lead to 17-16. Riverboat Ron Rivera mercifully decided to attempt a two-point conversion to end this ugly affair in regulation, but just like Carolina's season, it failed.
  1. Jameis Winston wasn't that much better tossing the pigskin on the other side. He turned the ball over twice (including his league-leading seventh first-quarter interception) and finished with a lowly 5.8 yards per attempt. The former No. 1 overall pick still needs to really work on his pocket awareness. In his final three games this season, with the Bucs at one point in the playoff hunt, Winston completed 57.1 percent of his throws to go with a 5:6 touchdown-to-interception ratio and two lost fumbles.
  1. This contest was a poor showing for former Florida State kickers. Roberto Aguayo made one of his three field-goal attempts. Graham Gano one-upped him by missing three of his four field goals (to be fair, one of his tries came from 58 yards out). Both kickers were eager to move on from a nightmarish 2016, but neither started off 2017 on the right foot.

-- Max Meyer

  1. It was a tale of two halves on Sunday in Indianapolis between two AFC South foes. The Colts, who began the game with four-straight three-and-outs -- their most to start a game since 1993 -- outscored the Jaguars 21-3 in the second half. The team's comeback was fueled by Colts quarterback Andrew Luck's effective hurry-up offense, capped off with a touchdown pass to tight end Jack Doyle to take the game. Luck ended the day 24-of-40 with 321 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. With the win, the Colts avoided the series sweep.
  1. Despite a banged-up offense and under the leadership of interim head coach Doug Marrone, the Jaguars and quarterback Blake Bortles appeared to be the most confident in the first half than I can recall all season. Bortles, whose job isn't necessarily secure next year, had a decent audition. Bortles (25-of-39, 301 yards passing, one touchdown) hit six different targets, and rookie tight end Ben Koyack recorded his first career touchdown reception. The Jaguars' total offense (460 yards) on Sunday surpassed the team's season average (325.9). Perhaps, with additional pieces in place and the right head coach, the Jaguars can get something going in 2017. I'm buying into the hype.
  1. Sunday's win proved to be even sweeter for two Colts veterans. Frank Gore became one of the oldest running backs to rush for 1,000 yards in a season. Gore is 33 and totaled 1,025 yards rushing in 2016. (Only three players have done so at the age of 33 or older.) Colts linebacker Robert Mathis and one of the league's all-time greats announced his plans for retirement earlier this week. Mathis' final game ended in superb fashion as the NFL's all-time leader in strip sacks recorded one more during the final quarter of his 14-year career.

-- Andie Hagemann

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