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Hawks in the NFL - Week 18

Tight ends with big games, loads of interceptions and more to close out the regular season!

New York Giants v Philadelphia Eagles Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

The NFL regular season is over and we have season recaps. Plus a couple of coaches did some weird stuff. Let’s go!

George Kittle and Ben Niemann

George Kittle keeps finding the end zone. His stat line Sunday looks pedestrian – 4 receptions for 29 yards in a 38-13 hammering of Arizona that just recently saw the end of Kliff Kingsbury’s head coaching tenure with the Cardinals – but then you see he also found the end zone twice, taking his year-end touchdown tally to 11. Here’s touchdown #1 from Sunday, with Kittle doing an excellent job getting both feet in.

Here’s his second score, fighting off a Cardinals defender for the final touchdown of the game.

Are you shocked when Kittle turns up in a blocking clip, blasting someone into Middle Earth? NOPE.

Also cool – Kittle’s grandmother got to take in her first NFL game at the age of 100. That’s just freaking cool. Somehow I can work Jess Settles into an NFL recap? YES.

Kittle concluded his regular season with 60 reception for 765 yards and 11 scores. Excellent season. AND he played in 15 games. Injuries have been the knock on Kittle the last few years, but there were no problems this year after Week 2. San Francisco enters the NFC bracket as the 2-seed on the back of a 10-game winning streak and will play division rival Seattle.

On the other sideline was Ben Niemann. Niemann finished with 9 tackles in Arizona’s season finale. He ended the season with 70 tackles and a fumble recovery.

Noah Fant

Speaking of Seattle, that’s Noah Fant’s music! Fant and his fellow Seahawks needed a win over the Los Angeles Rams and a Green Bay loss to Detroit to make the playoffs. Their game was the mid-afternoon game and the Seahawks survived in overtime, winning on a short field goal to take care of their end of the bargain. Then with that Aaron Rodgers arm punt at the end of regulation in Green Bay, Seattle got the help they needed from Detroit to make the playoffs. This will be Fant’s first career playoff game after failing to make the playoffs in his Denver tenure.

Fant finished Sunday’s game with 4 catches for 20 yards and ends the regular season with 50 catches for 486 yards and 4 touchdowns. They are the first Wild Card game on Saturday, in San Francisco. This feels like a mismatch, honestly. Yes, it’s hard to beat someone 3 times in a season…unless you’re just way more talented than the other team. Then it might not be all that hard.

T.J. Hockenson

Minnesota rebounded from their humiliation in Green Bay last week with a 29-13 win over Chicago, who will now pick first in the draft after Houston beat Indianapolis, for some reason. This game meant nothing to Minnesota – they had already won the division weeks ago. They get a rematch with the New York Giants, who Minnesota beat Week 16 on a 61-yard field goal at the buzzer (we’ll get to the Giants in a bit).

With this game meaning little, Hockenson didn’t play much and Minnesota rotated heavily at halftime, unlike another team we’ll get to at the end. Hockenson finished this game with 1 reception for 16 yards. He finished the year with 86 receptions for 914 yards and 6 touchdowns.

Tyler Linderbaum

Quick check-in!

By all accounts, it was an excellent rookie season for Linderbaum. He will play in his first playoff game Sunday at Cincinnati in a game we just saw Week 18 (a 27-16 Cincinnati win).

Dane Belton

Let’s touch on our normal defensive players. Like Minnesota, the Giants already had a playoff spot secured going into the last week of the year so they rotated heavily.

Belton finished the game with 6 tackles and an interception of Jalen Hurts in the end zone. The pick was Belton’s second of the season.

Dane ended the year with 31 tackles, 2 fumble recoveries, and 2 interceptions. That’s a solid rookie campaign.

Amani Hooker

In the less fortunate category, Hooker played a de facto playoff game Saturday night with the floundering Titans, playing at Jacksonville for the AFC South title. Tennessee led the game late, 16-13, but a fumble return for a touchdown in the final 3 minutes flipped the game, the division, and home field this weekend to Jacksonville. Talk about falling apart – Tennessee was 7-3 after 10 games and ended the year 7-10. Not great!

Hooker finished with 5 tackles Saturday and had 46 for the year. He also had a forced fumble and an interception on the season.

Christian Kirksey and Desmond King

As mentioned, Houston beat Indianapolis Sunday. I don’t understand what they were doing, unless Lovie Smith said “screw it,” which might be the case (he was fired a few hours after the game). They converted a bunch of 4th downs late, then went for 2 to win and converted for a 32-31 final. The win knocked Houston out of the top draft spot, pushing the top overall pick to Chicago instead. Whatever.

Kirksey and King had good conclusions to their seasons – King finished with 6 tackles and a punt return of 16 yards, while Kirksey finished with 5 tackles and an interception, also his second of the year. These guys balled out all year despite a 3-13-1 season. King ended the year with 89 tackles, 2 fumble recoveries, and 2 picks, as well as 33 punt returns for 309 yards and a long of 31. Kirksey finished his season with 124 tackles, 3 sacks, a fumble recovery, and 2 picks.

Josey Jewell

Here ends Broncos Corner and our weekly look-in at The Outlaw and the ongoing disaster that is the Denver Broncos. Jewell had himself a great season. He ended the regular season with 5 tackles and a fumble recovery in Denver’s 31-28 win over the Los Angeles Chargers, and that took his numbers to 128 tackles, 2.5 sacks, 7 tackles for loss, 2 interceptions, 2 forced fumbles, and 2 fumble recoveries for the year. That’s a really productive season.

We’re actually pivoting to a Chargers Corner for this - what the hell was that? In a game that did not matter as the Chargers were in the playoffs and couldn’t rise above a 5-seed, why is Justin Herbert playing into the 4th quarter? Keenan Allen catching a touchdown with 6 minutes to play - why is he playing? Mike Williams, a vital player for the Chargers, picked up an injury in the second quarter, an injury described by a Chargers player as “demoralizing.” Joey Bosa didn’t come back in the second quarter after an awkward play, nor did Kenneth Murray, Jr. who was later diagnosed with a stinger. Some players said they’re good with it and want momentum going into the playoffs - ok, fine. But when vital players are getting hurt in a totally meaningless game, maybe momentum isn’t the right answer here, you guys. THIS ISN’T HARD. I’m low-key mad and I couldn’t be more indifferent about the Chargers.