Thanks to DeSean Jackson, Matt Dodge and the improbable finish at New Meadowlands Stadium between the Eagles and Giants, the Falcons are the first NFC team to clinch a playoff berth.
The Falcons wouldn’t have known, though, because at the exact same time, they were on the opposite side of the country, losing 7-0 in Seattle. The Falcons entered the weekend needing a win, or a loss by the Giants, Bears or Packers to clinch a playoff spot.
With the score tied at 31 with 14 seconds remaining and the game set to go into overtime, Jackson muffed a punt from Dodge, but then split the Giants’ coverage up the middle and returned it 65 yards for the game-winning touchdown. Giants coach Tom Coughlin was shown screaming at Dodge, the team’s rookie punter, after the play, presumably because the line-drive kick was short and down the middle of the field.
As is the case late in the NFL season, the play in New Jersey had a far-reaching impact, officially putting the Falcons in the playoffs.
Here’s a look at all of the Week 15 clinching scenarios.