Sky Sports’s Neil Reynolds had the final say in NFL Week 18; Join Neil and the Inside the Huddle guests every Tuesday at 9 p.m. on Sky Sports NFL as they recall the weekend’s highlights …
The last week of the 2021 regular season was crazy from start to finish.
I dived headlong into the playoff reshuffle and NFL RedZone updates. It was a fun and worthy conclusion to this incredible regular season and now the playoffs … come on!
Sunday night was wild in the NFL and I’ll be covering all of that soon. But running this column on Tuesday allows me to reflect on news from across the league. And it was a manic Monday when the Chicago Bears fired head coach Matt Nagy and general manager Ryan Pace, the Minnesota Vikings fired head coach Mike Zimmer and general manager Rick Spielman, and the Miami Dolphins fired head coach Brian Flores. The news of these departures seemed to come around the same time.
The Denver Broncos have already fired head coach Vic Fangio on Sunday morning, Jacksonville left Urban Meyer in mid-December, and the Las Vegas Raiders have given no indication that interim coach Rich Bisaccia will get his full-time job. … So there are exactly five discoveries and probably six. Flores shocked me the most, and it sounds tough. Miami has won eight of its last nine games, and its record over the past two years is better than one Bill Belichick.
The Los Angeles Chargers and the Las Vegas Raiders tied in Sunday’s regular season final. But given that Indianapolis lost to Jacksonville earlier in the day, it was also a draw and both teams are in the game. Rumors of such a scenario grew throughout the evening, especially when Justin Herbert threw a decisive touchdown to Mike Williams when regulation time was up.
This escalated into a cacophony of noise after both teams scored goals from a field goal in overtime, and then the Raiders faced third and fourth at LA’s 39-yard line with 38 seconds left. Will Silver and Black try to raise the first bet? Or would they act wisely and kneel to avoid the risk of interception, groping, or blocking a shot for a field goal?
The Chargers wouldn’t complain about their knees. The tie sent them through. So why on earth did Los Angeles head coach Brandon Staley call a time out? The Raiders quarterback Derek Carr said the timeout changed their mindset, with the first down and the 47-yard field-winning goal when time was up. You are not forcing the problem there. Control yourself and let the raiders decide.
Heading for the big competition on Sunday at NFC West, Sean McVeigh’s Los Angeles Rams were 45-0 leading in the half. So the hosts must have been doing pretty well, taking the lead 17-0 and then leading 17-3 at half-time. The Rams were getting close to the NFC West title.
But San Francisco fought back to win the game 27-24 in overtime, securing the last spot in the NFC. In the second half, the Nines showed one of the best team performances of the season. And he took everyone. Jimmy Garoppolo threw over 300 yards, Brandon Ayuk hit over 100 yards on the take, and the defense fired Matthew Stafford five times and intercepted him twice. But the star of the show was Dibo Samuel, who caught four passes at 95 yards, dashed 45 yards and a touchdown, and made a pass to Ja’Voin Jennings. Pass the ball to Samuel as often as possible during the playoffs.