Recapping Major Injuries from NFL Week 16 Action
Sunday afternoon brought plenty of excitement, as almost every contest came with at least some sort of playoff implication.
Unfortunately, the afternoon was also marred by a number of potentially serious injuries.
Like the games, some of the injuries could also have an impact on the NFL landscape when the postseason kicks off in two weeks.
Let's run down some of Sunday's injury headlines and what they could mean moving forward.
The St. Louis Rams made offensive tackle Jake Long their prize free-agent addition of last offseason, inking him to a four-year, $34 million deal.
Not it appears the first year of the deal will end prematurely.
Long suffered a knee injury in Sunday's victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and did not return. Head coach Jeff Fisher told Fox's Laura Okmin at halftime that he believed Long had suffered a torn ACL.
This means Long is likely to finish the season on injured reserve for the second consecutive year, though the Rams' season ends after next week.
The Denver Broncos wrapped up an AFC West title on Sunday with a victory over the Houston Texans and a loss by the Kansas City Chiefs.
However, the news was not all good, as an injury to star pass-rusher Von Miller hung over much of the game.
Fortunately, the Broncos defense does not seem to be overly dependent on Miller, who missed six games this season due to suspension.
Even if Miller misses postseason time, Denver will still have Shaun Phillips, who has 10 sacks on the year.
Unfortunately, Miller's injury was not the only potentially important one suffered by the Broncos on Sunday.
Center Steve Vallos also left the game and did not return. According to the team's official Twitter account, Vallos did suffer a concussion.
This means Vallos will now be subject to league concussion protocol and could miss time in the postseason.
Vallos took over the starting job when Dan Koppen suffered a torn ACL during the offseason.
Smith injured his knee in the first quarter of Sunday's win over the New Orleans Saints, though he did not appear to be contacted on the play.
While Smith did briefly reenter the game, he eventually limped to the locker room and was pronounced done for the day.
According to Josh Alper of Pro Football Talk, the injury is not believed to be extremely serious, but Smith is scheduled for an MRI on Monday.
Smith is currently second on the team with 799 receiving yards. It is difficult to believe the Panthers offense will be as balanced with Smith out of the lineup.
Sunday's loss to Carolina did not necessarily cost the Saints a shot at the postseason. However, it did cost them an opportunity to bring one of the year's top rookies along for the ride.
Safety Kenny Vaccaro was carted off the field in the first quarter of Sunday's game and did not return.
According to NFL.com's Ian Rapoport, Vaccaro's injury is believed to be a fractured ankle, which would end his season.
This means the Saints may have to scramble to find a viable replacement in time for Wild Card Weekend.
The former Texas standout had racked up 79 combined tackles, six passes defended and an interception this season before the injury.
The Dallas Cowboys will have an opportunity to take home an NFC East title in Week 17 thanks to a victory over the Washington Redskins on Sunday.
The win came thanks in large part to some late-game heroics by quarterback Tony Romo.
However, Romo appeared to be in noticeable pain during the latter stages of the game.
Considering Romo was able to finish Sunday's game against Washington, there is little reason to believe he will miss next week's NFC East title game.
Despite losing to the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday, the Green Bay Packers are still technically alive in the NFC North title race.
Another injury to linebacker Clay Matthews does not help their cause, though.
Mathews left Sunday's game after re-injuring his thumb and did not return. It was the same thumb that was broken earlier this season and caused Matthews to miss a month of play.
A loss by the Chicago Bears on Sunday night will place the Packers in a title-clinching scenario next week, though they may have to go in without Matthews.
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