In the final regular season week, there were storylines everywhere, from seasons ending to teams clinching playoff berths; week 18 had it all.
Storybook start for Buffalo
Only six days removed from safety Damar Hamlin’s life-threatening injury, running back Nyheim Hines returned the opening kickoff to the endzone. With the sideline on the brink of tears, they were watching Hines go the distance to begin the game. It wouldn’t be Hines’s only kickoff return touchdown as he returned another kickoff to the endzone in the third quarter. After a week of emotion for the Buffalo Bills, they responded with a 35-23 victory against their division rival New England Patriots.
No coin flip needed
The Cincinnati Bengals had their adversity by getting the short end of the stick after Monday night. If the Bengals were to lose to the Baltimore Ravens, they could’ve had to travel to Baltimore based on a coin flip, even after winning the division. None of that would be needed as the Bengals put the game in their hands with a 27-16 victory in week 18 as they host the Ravens for a Wild Card matchup. As a touchdown celebration running back, Joe Mixon flipped a coin of his own as he pulled the coin out of his sock, which was cheered throughout the league, but he will most likely be fined for the celebration.
Texans win…lose #1 pick
In a game where the Houston Texans only had to lose to the Indianapolis Colts to clinch the No. 1 pick in the 2023 draft, head coach Lovie Smith had other ideas. With a motivated Texans team where they controlled most of the game; it would come down to the play-making of quarterback David Mills and tight end Jordan Akins to convert a 4th & 20 in the waning seconds to take the lead. The Texan’s front office didn’t take too kindly to the winning effort in week 18 as they fired Smith before the end of the night as Houston now holds the No. 2 pick. Meanwhile, the Chicago Bears jump to the No. 1 pick, where quarterback-needy teams will be looking to trade up, and the Bears potentially trading back in the draft.
J.J. Watt is forever a legend
In his final game, the future NFL Hall of Famer showed out one last time by recording two sacks while his family watched. The legendary defensive end finishes his career with 114.5 sacks, 586 tackles, 27 forced fumbles, and 70 pass deflections, along with being a three-time defensive player of the year and a seven-time all-pro. Watt’s next stop will be Canton, OH, to be enshrined, but it will be forever remembered amongst all players and fans.
The brand new Lions
In a game that didn’t matter for the Detroit Lions after the Seattle Seahawks ended their playoff hopes earlier in the day with a win, the Lions still made a statement to the league that they’re here to stay after week 18. Detroit traveled to Green Bay to play the Packers as they were looking to clinch a playoff berth, but the Lions prevented that by shocking the league in front of everyone on Sunday Night Football with a 20-16 victory. Head coach Dan Campbell has led the Lions to their first winning season since 2016 and has proved to the world that this isn’t your ‘same old Lions’ of the past.
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