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Week 17 Recap: Boom

by Clyde E. Dawkins 5 months ago in football
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With so much on the line on the field, all 32 teams remember and honor the iconic John Madden

On December 28, 2021, the NFL and football fans overall (myself included) were deeply saddened by the sudden passing of former head coach turned legendary broadcaster, John Madden, at the age of 85. Born on April 10, 1936 in Austin, Minnesota, John Earl Madden actually played the game during his college years before being drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles in 1958; however, a knee injury ended his playing career before it had the chance to begin. At only the age of 24, Madden's coaching career began, serving as an assistant at Allan Hancock College before becoming their head coach, and later working as a defensive coordinator at San Diego State.

In 1967, Madden was hired by the Oakland Raiders as a linebackers coach, and would become the team's head coach two seasons later. Under Madden, the Raiders were a superpower in the newly formed American Football Conference (they were part of the American Football League in 1969), but despite his successful seasons, he was regarded as a coach who "couldn't win the big one." That all went away in 1976, when Madden's Raiders went 13-1 and went on to defeat the Minnesota Vikings in Super Bowl XI. It would be Madden's only championship, but he remains the most successful coach in NFL history among those who have won 100 games. Madden never had a losing season, and only missed the playoffs twice in his decade as Raiders coach. Overall, Madden went 103-32-7 in the regular season, and 9-7 in the playoffs.

It was in 1979 that Madden's famed broadcasting career began, and after working alongside big named announcers such as Vin Scully and Jack Buck, it was in 1981 that his longtime partnership with Pat Summerall began, and it was that pair that I grew up with during my childhood in the early 1990s. The Summerall/Madden duo were on CBS until Fox bought their NFC package, and after 14 years on CBS, they worked an additional seven on Fox, with Madden's final Fox broadcast being Super Bowl XXXVI--which was Tom Brady's first championship. Madden joined ABC's Monday Night Football in 2002, working alongside Al Michaels for ABC's final four seasons carrying the Monday games, with Super Bowl XL being the finale. When Madden and Michaels began calling NBC's Sunday Night games in 2006, Madden became the first broadcaster to have worked for all four of the main networks. After three seasons on NBC, Madden retired from broadcasting, with Super Bowl XLIII being his final broadcast.

It was on Christmas Day 2021, three days before Madden's passing, that Fox aired the All Madden special, named after the perennial "All Madden Teams." There is no doubt that Madden left a lasting legacy; his coaching career, his broadcasting style, the telestrator (which I loved as a kid and still do), his interjections ("Boom!" being the main one), his commercials, the video game that bears his name, and yes, especially the famed "Turducken" on Thanksgiving. Without question, Madden was (and remains) an all time great--both as a coach and a broadcaster.

The league honored John Madden throughout Week 17, as well they should, while the week's action saw teams locking up spots and jockeying for position. One such team was the Cincinnati Bengals, who defeated the Kansas City Chiefs at the last second by a score of 34-31, not only ending KC's 8-game winning streak, but also clinching the AFC North. For Joe Burrow, this is his first postseason in only his second year in the league, and he had another monster game--throwing for 446 yards. 266 of those yards went to his longtime lead receiver, Ja'Marr Chase; that duo is really turning heads.

Another division that was clinched was the AFC South, as the Tennessee Titans routed the Miami Dolphins by a score of 34-3, which ended another winning streak, as the Dolphins had won seven straight. The Titans actually clinched moments before their game ended, thanks to the Las Vegas Raiders defeating the Indianapolis Colts, 23-20, but with Tennessee's win, they ended up moving into the #1 seed in the AFC over the Kansas City Chiefs, as the Titans' head to head edge puts them in the position. Elsewhere in the AFC playoff picture, the Buffalo Bills and the New England Patriots clinched playoff spots; the Bills won 29-15 over the Atlanta Falcons, while the Patriots routed the Jacksonville Jaguars by a score of 50-10.

The Los Angeles Chargers brought themselves closer to the postseason with their 34-13 victory over the struggling Denver Broncos. As a result, not only were the Broncos eliminated from playoff contention, but the same fate befell the Cleveland Browns and the Miami Dolphins. As for the Baltimore Ravens, while they suffered a nail biting loss to the Los Angeles Rams, they remained alive in the AFC playoff race, but at 8-8, they will need a lot of things to happen if they want to play postseason football. The Ravens have now lost five straight since actually leading the conference at one point.

The Rams' victory meant that they were an Arizona Cardinals loss away from winning the NFC West, and they also remained alive in the race for the #1 seed. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers also stayed alive (despite another messy performance from Tom Brady and an even bigger mess elsewhere) with their close victory over the New York Jets, but all eyes were on the Cardinals' game against the Dallas Cowboys. Arizona entered with three straight losses and five in the last eight, but they managed to take full control in Arlington, building up a 22-7 lead late. The Cowboys managed to come back and bring it within three (25-22), but Arizona's clutch first down ended up sealing it for the Cards. Once again, this loss was due to the incompetency of Mike McCarthy, as his misuse of timeouts prevented him from challenging the first down, as there was an apparent fumble. Ironically, McCarthy ended up doing more for the Green Bay Packers in that game than he ever did in 13 seasons as Packers coach.

The reason why I say that: because of Dallas' loss, all the Packers had to do was defeat the Minnesota Vikings to claim the #1 seed, and that's exactly what happened. The Vikings were immensely shorthanded; while Dalvin Cook was back, Kirk Cousins tested positive for COVID-19 and was out for that game, and Adam Thielen was injured as well. The Packers made quick work of the Vikings, winning 37-10 to clinch home field in the NFC. Also, as a result of the Philadelphia Eagles' 20-16 win over the Washington Football Team earlier in the day, the Vikings were eliminated from playoff contention, and the Vikings loss coupled with the San Francisco 49ers' win over the Houston Texans ended up putting the Eagles in the playoffs. However, due to the New Orleans Saints' 18-10 win over the Carolina Panthers, one playoff spot remains in the NFC.

Which brings us to the Monday Night contest between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Cleveland Browns, and the two most important words that evening: Big Ben. For 18 years, Benjamin Todd Roethlisberger, Sr stood as the gold standard in Pittsburgh. Three Super Bowl appearances, victories in Super Bowls XL and XLIII, and so many historic moments. It was earlier this season that Big Ben announced that this year will be his last, and he doubled down with stating that this Monday showcase would most likely be his final home game. It became even more emotional due to the fact that the Steelers entered the game barely alive in the playoff race, but it didn't stop them from defeating the already eliminated Browns by a score of 19-7.

As the final seconds ticked away, that's when the tears came out. I'm a Packers fan, but Big Ben is one of my all time favorite QBs. I watched him since Day One, I still remember his SB victories, and he had an amazing showing in Super Bowl XLV as well. Big Ben continued to flourish as his career progressed, but recent injuries have hampered his performances. I guess that's part of why I was so emotional: what he's gone through since 2019. Even with that, Big Ben stood strong, but his season isn't over yet. It may have more than one game left. Pittsburgh's win keeps them alive, but they'll need a lot to happen. They need to defeat the Ravens, the Colts need to lose to the lowly Jaguars, and the game between the Chargers and Raiders has to have a winner.

One more thing. This is proof of how things are full circle. I mentioned that Big Ben won Super Bowls XL and XLIII. As stated before, Super Bowl XL served as John Madden's final broadcast on ABC, and Super Bowl XLIII was Madden's final broadcast ever. A fitting trivial note on an emotional Week 17.

So we are down to the final week; Week 18, the season finale. It will kick off with the Denver Broncos hosting the Kansas City Chiefs, as well as the Philadelphia Eagles hosting the Dallas Cowboys on Saturday. The rest of the games will take place on Sunday, with select playoff relevant games being shown on the early and late windows, but the final game of the regular season will feature the Los Angeles Chargers and the Las Vegas Raiders, with the winner clinching a playoff spot.


About the author

Clyde E. Dawkins

Born on March 18, 1985. I am an avid fan of sports and wrestling, and I've been a fan of female villains since the age of eight. Also love movies--especially comedy and horror--and among my favorite TV shows are The Simpsons and Family Guy

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