The final Sunday of the NFL's regular season solidified playoff positions and coaching vacancies for a lot of the league. With Black Monday looming, plenty of former Buckeyes were in action, sprinkled throughout the chaotic mix of victory celebrations and rebuilding plans.
The Cleveland Browns were the first to cut ties with their first-year coach Rob Chudzinski (shocker, right?) after finishing their 4-12 season with a 20-7 loss to AFC North "rival" Pittsburgh. Will Allen and Cameron Heyward had three tackles in the contest for the Steelers, who came up one game short of the AFC's sixth seed.
The Bengals gave the Steelers false hope, defeating the Ravens 34-17, eliminating them from playoff contention and the chance to defend their championship. Mike Nugent connected on all four extra point attempts, ending the season 48-49. Nuge also added field goals from 38 and 39 yards out. Dane Sanzenbacher had one catch for seven yards, his first time in the box score since Week 8.
The Green Bay Packers sans-Aaron Rodgers isn't a very good football team. But with him, well, just ask the Chicago Bears. Rodgers came back from a suffered broken collarbone seven weeks ago to lead the Pack-Attack past the Bears 33-28, claiming the NFC North championship. Ryan Pickett had three tackles in the game, with A.J. Hawk adding two of his own for the Packers defense.
After an injury and six weeks riding the Pine Pony, the Oakland Raiders went back to Terrelle Pryor, who didn't look half bad in a 34-14 losing effort to Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos, the AFC's no. 1 seed. Pryor was a rusty 21-for-38 throwing the ball, racking up 207 yards through the air with two touchdowns and zero interceptions. Also the leading rusher for the Raiders, Pryor added 49 yards on the ground on 9 attempts. Chimdi Chekwa got the start on Sunday at corner, registering a season-high eight tackles.
James Laurinaitis led the Rams with 10 tackles in their 27-9 loss to the Seahawks Sunday. The 49ers Donte Whitner had 4 tackles against the Cardinals; New York Giants defensive lineman Johnathan Hankins had one against the Redskins, as did the Dolphins Austin Spitler against the Jets.
Ted Ginn Jr. found the endzone against the Falcons, catching two passes for a grand total of six yards. Jets wide receiver Santonio Holmes had three catches for 41 yards against the Dolphins. Brian Hartline, usually a leading receiver for the Dolphins, had just two receptions for the 38 yards.
With the regular season officially finished, 13 former Buckeyes will be moving on to what Bill Parcells used to refer to as 'the tournament'.