Week 13 of the NFL season is almost over, and as we head into the fourth quarter of the season, playoff races are becoming clearer.
Miami climbed to 6-6 and remains the likeliest Florida team to make the postseason. The Dolphins’ 23-3 road win over the New York Jets puts the team in seventh place in the AFC, with the Baltimore Ravens holding the tiebreaker due to the two teams’ matchup in early October.
“The offensive line really came with the mindset that they were going to rush the ball,” Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill said. ”The backs did a great job of hitting holes when they were there, and I think that set the tone for the game.”
Miami finished with 125 yards rushing, complementing Tannehill’s 331 yards passing and two touchdowns. New York Jets rookie quarterback Geno Smith was benched at halftime after only 29 yards passing and an interception.
Jacksonville beat the Browns 32-28 in Cleveland, with the host city indirectly responsible for the final score.
Jaguars wide receiver Cecil Shorts III, who grew up in Cleveland, torched Florida Gator alumnus Joe Haden and hauled in a 20-yard pass from Chad Henne in the left corner of the endzone to give Jacksonville the lead with 40 seconds left.
“It was my fault right there on the touchdown,” Haden said after the game. “Good route, good play, good offense. It (expletive) hurts.”
The 32 points that Jacksonville scored were the most the Jaguars managed all season.
“We wanted to make sure that once we crossed that logo area . . . to make sure we get points,” Jaguars coach Gus Bradley said. “It wasn’t to set things up to get a field goal.”
The win was crucial for the Jaguars. If they can win out while the other teams vying for the wild card (including Miami) finish 7-9 or worse, Jacksonville will make the playoffs. While a nine-loss team finishing the season on a six-game winning streak is unlikely, it remains a possibility.
What is not possible, however, is Tampa Bay making the playoffs. The Buccaneers’ faint hopes died in a 27-6 loss to the Carolina Panthers. The Panthers increased their string of wins to eight while ending the Bucs’ three-game winning streak.
“Early in the game we had plenty of opportunities to make it a good football game,” Bucs coach Greg Schiano said. “We did not capitalize and they did. This was a team – top to bottom – loss starting with me.”
The best that the Bucs can finish now is 7-9, which falls behind the worst possible finish by San Francisco, who at worst make the playoffs at 8-8.
Carolina’s defense smothered Tampa. The Buccaneers only managed 206 total yards of offense. Quarterback Mike Glennon was sacked five times for 40 yards and threw an interception. He also fumbled without being touched on a third-and-goal passing play. Running back Bobby Rainey only had 63 yards rushing.
“You’ve got to give credit to that defense,” Glennon said. “They’re one of the best defenses in the league, and they played like it today. They stopped our run game, they took away our pass game . . . they played better than us.”
The Buccaneers, who earlier in the season were competing with Jacksonville for the first overall pick in the 2014 draft, would now have only the fifth overall pick. Houston, St. Louis (from Washington), Jacksonville and Atlanta would have earlier picks if the season ended today.
To hear what players and coaches are saying about the games, click the links below:
Ryan Tannehill - Dolphins Quarterback: “The backs did a great job of hitting holes.”
Joe Haden - Browns Cornerback: “It was my fault right there on the touchdown.”
Gus Bradley - Jaguars Head Coach: “We wanted . . . to make sure we get points.”
Greg Schiano - Buccaneers Head Coach: “We had plenty of opportunities to make it a good football game.”
Greg Schiano - Buccaneers Head Coach: “He [Glennon] maybe looked a little more like a rookie than he’s looked.”
Mike Glennon - Buccaneers Quarterback: “You’ve got to give credit to that defense.”