|Jeff Backus [illegally] kicks some Jared Allen ass|
Left tackle Jeff Backus has started every Detroit Lions' game since the team drafted him with the 18th overall pick in 2001. That's eleven straight years and 175 consecutive games without missing a start, good for the longest streak in franchise history. All has not been sunny for Backus, however, as the Lions have been the laughing stock of the NFL over that time, with fans repeatedly calling for him to be replaced. I'm uncertain as to why Backus developed into everyone's favorite scapegoat for the Lions' woes, but it's nice to see this former Michigan athlete finally get a reprieve from ugly losses and fan criticisms.
Against the Chargers on Christmas Eve, the Lions clinched their first playoff birth since 1999 and Backus played well: he didn't give up a single sack and paved the way for two third down conversions on third and short. "Detroit Lions offensive tackle Jeff Backus dominant against the San Diego Chargers," read an Mlive headline after the game while Pro Football Focus wrote,"Jeff Backus has really put together some nice performances as of late. In the last five games, he has graded out as an 8.7 while only allowing one quarterback sack and one quarterback hit." After a challenging eleven year start to his NFL career, hopefully this is the sign of better things to come for Backus and his Lions.
Honorable Mention: Brady again threw for 300 + yards last week as he lead the Patriots to their 12th victory of the season by overcoming a 17 point first half deficit to defeat the Dolphins, 27-24. Although on pace for much of the year, Tom Brady won't beak Dan Marino's 1984 single-season passing record of 5,084 yards because Drew Brees beat him to it, breaking the record on Monday Night Football. But with only 190 yards separating Brady and Brees, it's still possible for Brady to end this season with the record. Saints coach Sean Payton has a history of resting his starters in the second half of the final regular season game and may do so again with the Division already sewn up and nothing to gain if the 49ers take care of the lowly Rams as is expected.
Miscellaneous: Braylon Edwards caught a nine yard pass on Sunday but was cut by the 49ers after the game. Morgan Trent, now with Jacksonville, recorded his second career interception last week to go along with four tackles. Jake Long returned from his biceps injury against the Patriots but left the game after re-aggravating it. Martell Webb was cut from Tampa Bay's practice squad. Jake Long, Tom Brady and Charles Woodson were named starters for the 2012 Pro Bowl.