The 2021 NFL regular season has finally come to an end and it was one for the record books. Aaron Rodgers returned to the Green Bay Packers and finished the year as the NFC No.1 seed for the second season in a row, Odell Beckham Jr. escaped Cleveland and joined the Los Rams Angeles and then the Las Vegas Raiders overcame a whole bunch of adversity to make the playoffs with an interim head coach. If there is one thing that will define the 2021 season, it is that it was the first season with 17 games and 18 weeks.
Despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the NFL has managed its first 17-game regular season – and soon we’ll have more games! Of course, an 8-9 record seems very strange compared to the 8-8 .500 teams we know and love, but more football is more football, and it’s something we can all support.
Below, we’ll take a look at some key takeaways from 2021 and see what we got with another extra regular season game.
Star players were against adding more games
Two years ago, the NFL and the NFLPA negotiated a new collective agreement. One of the main sticking points was the league’s option to extend the regular season from 16 to 17 games. In March 2020, the players voted to ratify the new collective agreement. For the proposed deal to go through, a simple majority of the players had to vote ‘yes’. The final vote was 1,019 to 959. Although the deal was made, many NFL stars opposed it.
Leonard Fournette, Richard Sherman, Emmanuel Sanders, Alvin Kamara, Adrian Amos, Darius Slay, David Johnson, among others, have publicly expressed their displeasure at adding an extra game in the regular season and were not happy that the new CBA be adopted. The 2020 season was the last season with just 16 regular season games, with the NFL deciding to upgrade to 17 the following year.
A record season
With an extra game in the regular season, it’s fair to expect that single-season records can be set. We even put together a list of records we thought we could beat, including most passing yards in one season (5,477 by Peyton Manning in 2013), passing touchdowns in one season (again Manning with 55 in 2013) and rushing yards (2,105 by Eric Dickerson in 1984.) While none of these have been broken, we’ve seen a handful of records broken. For example, Tom Brady broke Drew Brees’ record for most goals in one season with 485, and Jaylen Waddle broke Anquan Boldin’s record for most rookie catches with 104. Justin Jefferson also broke the record for most receptions made in a player’s first two seasons with 196. There was another single-season record that was tied – although it was controversial.
TJ Watt equals Michael Strahan sacking record
In Week 18, Pittsburgh Steelers star passing shooter TJ Watt tied 20-year-old Michael Strahan’s record for most sacks in a single season at 22.5. Before his sack tied, Watt and Cam Heyward knocked down quarterback Tyler Huntley, but Heyward was flagged for unnecessary roughness that nullified the sack. Earlier in the first quarter, Watt also appeared to sack Huntley and force a fumble, but he was only credited with a forced fumble. It was a “Go!” moment for the fans.
“Give him a half-sack,” Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said after the game, via ESPN. “Start the petition. “
Watt signed a four-year extension worth $ 112 million in September and has certainly lived up to it this season. He recorded a total of 64 tackles, seven defenses, five forced fumbles, 39 QB hits and of course 22.5 sacks – in just 15 games played! He is one of the best in the game and could have the chance to break the record next season.
The Los Angeles Rams star has had an incredible season, but hasn’t broken any NFL records. Kupp missed 18 yards to beat Calvin Johnson’s single-season receiving yard record, five receptions to beat Michael Thomas ‘2019 receiving record, and eight touchdowns to break Randy Moss’ touchdown record. However, Kupp got the triple crown!
According to NFL.com, Kupp became the first player since 2005 to lead the NFL in receptions, yards and touchdowns. He is only the fourth player since 1970 to achieve this goal, joining Jerry Rice (1990), Sterling Sharpe (1992) and Steve Smith (2005). Whether it’s making the most of a bubble screen or beating his defender in depth, Kupp has shone with new quarterback Matthew Stafford in 2021.
How the image of the playoffs has changed
When the NFL made the decision to extend the playoffs, it wasn’t the most popular decision. If they had allowed an additional wild card spot in every conference in 2019, we would have been forced to look at an 8-8 Steelers squad and a 9-7 Rams squad. Nobody wanted this, but it seemed to work last year. Yes, we had to watch a Chicago Bears team led by Mitchell Trubisky 8-8 on Nickelodeon in the NFC, but a double-digit Miami Dolphins team missed the AFC playoffs! It looks like more people are now accepting the new playoff format.
The extra regular season game is a good match for the extra playoff spot. If the season had ended in Week 17 this year, we would have had a very different picture of the playoffs. The Indianapolis Colts and Los Angeles Chargers of course want the season to end after 16 games this year. Speaking of the Chargers, they and the Raiders have given us what could be the most dramatic end of a season and playoff image we can ever see.
The ridiculous NFL regular season finale
With the Colts ‘stifling job against the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Steelers’ overtime victory over the Baltimore Ravens, the Chargers and Raiders ‘Sunday Night Football’ regular season finale would decide the final playoff squad. . Unless … they’re tied. If Vegas and LA were tied on Sunday night, the two teams would advance to the playoffs while ejecting the Steelers. Many were hoping to kneel in prime time, but obviously the Chargers and Raiders were too proud for that. What’s crazy is that the Raiders were put in a position to pick a tie if they wanted to.
After an incredible comeback for the Chargers after dropping up to 15 points in the fourth quarter, the game was tied 32-32 late in overtime. As the clock slowly ticked under 40 seconds, the Raiders faced a third and 4 off the Chargers’ 39-yard line. Then, first-year Chargers head coach Brandon Staley decided to request a time out. It was a move that left commentators, reporters and fans bewildered.
The Raiders then had a chance to talk about their play call, and in the play that followed Josh Jacobs ran left for 10 yards and a first down. The next play, Daniel Carlson broke a game-winning 47-yard goal to send the Raiders to the playoffs and Chargers home. After the game, Raiders quarterback Derek Carr admitted that Staley’s timeout changed their minds during this last practice. Yes, the Raiders did run the ball and would have run the ball if the Chargers hadn’t called a time-out, but if LA stopped the initial play before the time-out, the Chargers would head to the playoffs. Staley claimed he called the controversial timeout because he wanted different staff on the ground. Either way, give your opponent an extra second to think about a crucial play call with the clock and the dripping game clock was not smart.
Hollywood couldn’t have come up with a more incredible storyline than the end of the NFL regular season. The playoff and regular season expansion worked and provided us with incredible entertainment, and the same should be done in the future.