The penultimate week in the 2022 NFL regular season was full of surprises. The New Orleans Saints upset Gardner Minshew and the Philadelphia Eagles, the Seattle Seahawks dominated the New York Jets and the New York Giants earned their first playoff berth since 2016.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers wrapped up the NFC South for the second straight season behind Mike Evans’ three touchdowns, and the Washington Commanders knocked themselves out of the playoff race with a surprising loss to the Cleveland Browns. It was truly a wild week, but what made our list of top-five wildest moments from NFL Week 17? Let’s start with Patrick Mahomes doing Patrick Mahomes things.
5. Patrick Mahomes completes a pass to himself
NFL fans love all of the wild throws the Kansas City Chiefs quarterback pulls off, and he upped the ante by completing a pass to himself in the first quarter of the eventual 27-24 victory over the Denver Broncos.
The only thing more wild than this play is that Mahomes is now 11-0 against Denver. That’s tied for the second-most wins by a quarterback without a loss vs. an opponent since 1950.
4. Packers poised for playoff run after blowout win
What an incredible turnaround for Aaron Rodgers and Co. After starting the season 4-8, the Packers had a 1 percent chance to make the playoffs, according to SportsLine projections. Now, all they have to do is defeat the Detroit Lions in Lambeau next week and they are in.
The Packers took care of business at home against the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday, 41-17. I get that the Packers were favored in this divisional rematch, but who was expecting a 24-point blowout? Kirk Cousins threw three interceptions, Dalvin Cook managed just 27 rushing yards and Justin Jefferson caught just one pass for 15 yards! This Packers defense that many thought would be a top-five unit really stood up in Week 17, as it forced four turnovers and had a pick-six. Green Bay scored 41 points, yet Rodgers threw just one touchdown. That’s pretty spectacular.
It wasn’t too long ago we were discussing potentiallyfor Jordan Love since the franchise has to make a decision on his fifth-year option. Now, the Packers are playing their best ball, and could be a dark horse in the NFC.
3. Saints take it to the Eagles
The Eagles were sitting Jalen Hurts for a second consecutive week, but who really cared? Philly was returning home to play the lowly Saints, and Minshew had a pretty decent performance last week against the Dallas Cowboys. The Eagles were still five-point favorites, and I’m sure most fans were expecting them to clinch the NFC East and the No. 1 seed in the Sunday conference. Nope.
The Eagles fell to the Saints, 20-10. Philly did not score a single point in the first half, while Minshew struggled to get the offense going. The Eagles also rushed for just 67 yards while the offensive line performed poorly. It’s not like the Saints did anything spectacular either, as Andy Dalton didn’t throw a touchdown, Alvin Kamara didn’t score and the turnover battle ended tied, 1-1. I don’t know if a loss can improve someone’s MVP odds, but that may have happened this week for Hurts.
2. Ron Rivera sinks season without knowing
The Commanders were facing a must-win game in Week 17 against the Browns, which made it weird this was the time head coach Ron Rivera made the decision to switch quarterbacks. Taylor Heinicke went 5-3-1 as the starter this season, and basically brought Washington’s 2022 campaign back to life. Carson Wentz on the other hand had gone 2-4 in his six starts.
Sunday’s loss knocked Wentz down to 2-5 on the year, as the Commanders were destroyed by the Browns, 24-10. Wentz threw for just 143 yards and three interceptions, while the “Heinicke” chants started raining down from the crowd as early as the first quarter. If starting the lesser quarterback in a must-win game wasn’t wild enough, Rivera also apparently.
Rivera later clarified this remark to ESPN. I do understand what he’s saying, but his response still comes off terribly. Just like his decision to start Wentz. Now, the Commanders’ season is over.
In speaking on the addition of Wentz this offseason, Rivera famously said,It’s disheartening that every casual NFL fan knew more than Rivera when it came to Wentz.
Let’s be real. If you were asked to rank the least interesting games coming into this week, San Francisco 49ers at Las Vegas Raiders was going to be there somewhere in the top three. The 49ers had won eight straight and were absolutely rolling, while the Raiders were starting Jarrett Stidham after benching Derek Carr. I mean, what was some guy making his first career start going to do against the No. 1 defense in the NFL? How about 500 yards of total offense, 365 yards passing and three touchdowns?
Stidham also threw two interceptions, but he was tossing the ball around with confidence and allowing his playmakers to make plays. It turns out Davante Adams didn’t need his old college teammate to throw him the ball, as he caught seven passes for 153 yards, two touchdowns and set the Raiders franchise record for receiving yards in a season.
The 49ers also had a solid offensive outing, putting up 454 yards of total offense in the eventual 37-34 overtime victory behind Christian McCaffrey’s 193 scrimmage yards. Brandon Aiyuk also showed out with 101 receiving yards and a touchdown on nine catches. Brock Purdy threw for 284 yards, two touchdowns and one interception in his fourth career start.
The best part about this game was how it ended. First of all, there were 23 total points scored in the fourth quarter. 49ers kicker Robbie Gould had a chance for a game-winning 41-yard field goal, but missed! The Raiders won the overtime coin toss, and got the ball first. Four plays into the possession, Nick Bosa virtually won the game by pushing left tackle Kolton Miller into Stidham while the quarterback was winding up to throw, which in turn forced him to throw up a duck that was intercepted by Tashaun Gipson. That play set Gould up with redemption — a 23-yard game-winning field goal. WILD.