Week 17 marked the end of the road for many NFL teams, and there were some injuries to top players as well.
Losing star players is always difficult. However, some of the top guys banged up on Dec. 29 play for teams headed to the playoffs or for teams in contention, which is even tougher to handle.
More often than not, healthy teams advance deep into the postseason, while teams that get hit hard by the injury bug usually fall by the wayside.
With the Wild Card Round of the 2013-14 NFL playoffs coming up on Jan. 4, there isn't much time for competing teams to get healthy.
Here's a look at the marquee players who found themselves on the trainer's table in Week 17.
Miami Dolphins receiver Brian Hartline eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark after his second catch in Week 17 against the New York Jets.
UPDATE: Monday, Dec. 30, 11:50 a.m. ET by Donald Wood
According to Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald, Hartline tore his PCL:
Brian Hartline MRI results confirm PCL tear. No surgery required. Will be ready for training camp.— Armando Salguero (@ArmandoSalguero) December 30, 2013
---End of update---
He's been a favored target for quarterback Ryan Tannehill for two years in a row now, but he unfortunately injured his knee in his regular-season finale. The Dolphins on Twitter announced his return as "questionable":
Injury Update: WR Brian Hartline is questionable to return with a knee injury. #NYJvsMIA— Miami Dolphins (@MiamiDolphins) December 29, 2013
However, ESPN's John Clayton commented about the injury, calling it a "bad loss" for the Dolphins:
Bad loss for Miami Dolphins. Brian Hartline suffers knee injury. Doesn't look good.— John Clayton (@ClaytonESPN) December 29, 2013
Hartline's injury puts more pressure on Mike Wallace to deliver, but the pricey free agent hasn't been consistent for Miami in his first year.
New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning likely wishes he could just forget about his miserable 2013 season altogether. The veteran signal-caller threw his 27th interception of the season in Week 17 against Washington, injuring his ankle in the process.
ESPN's John Clayton noted the quarterback was limping back to the locker room at halftime, and Art Stapleton of The Record reported Curtis Painter was coming in at quarterback for the Giants in the third quarter:
Eli Manning had to limp to the lockerrom at the half— John Clayton (@ClaytonESPN) December 29, 2013
Curtis Painter takes over at QB for Eli Manning to begin the 3rd quarter. #NYG— Art Stapleton (@art_stapleton) December 29, 2013
Not long after, the Giants announced on Twitter that Manning was out for the rest of the game with a sprained ankle:
QB Eli Manning is out with an ankle sprain. #WASvsNYG— New York Giants (@Giants) December 29, 2013
There's always next year, Giants fans.
It's been a forgettable year for the New York Giants and receiver Hakeem Nicks, who failed to catch a single touchdown pass in 2013.
Nicks caught two passes for 50 yards in Week 17, but he suffered an ankle injury late in the first half and was ruled out for the remainder of the game, as noted by ESPN's Dan Graziano, who also pointed out quarterback Eli Manning was out with an ankle sprain:
Giants announce that Eli Manning and Hakeem Nicks are both OUT for the game with ankle sprains.— Dan Graziano (@DanGrazianoESPN) December 29, 2013
Making matters more difficult for the Giants, receiver Rueben Randle was also banged up against Washington, as New York's brutal campaign received no rest in the final week of the season.
Nicks will be a free agent after the season, meaning his walk back into the locker room before the first half could be his final act in a Giants uniform.
The New England Patriots can ill-afford to head into the playoffs without All-Pro offensive guard Logan Mankins, who was injured in Week 17.
Mankins suffered an ankle injury against Buffalo, as noted by the Patriots on Twitter, and he was ruled questionable to return:
Patriots Injury Update: Logan Mankins sustained an ankle injury & his return is questionable. #BUFvsNE— New England Patriots (@Patriots) December 29, 2013
Mankins later returned to the game, which also earned him some high praise from quarterback Tom Brady after the contest:
Brady on Mankins: "There’s nobody tougher than Logan Mankins...There’s nobody that I’ve ever played with that is as tough as him."— New England Patriots (@Patriots) December 30, 2013
Indianapolis Colts cornerback Vontae Davis has battled through a groin injury for much of the 2013 season, and he was forced from Week 17's contest against the Jacksonville Jaguars after aggravating it.
Mike Wells of ESPN noted Davis as questionable to return while pointing out the next man up for Indy:
Vontae Davis is questionable to return with a groin injury. Paging Greg Toler, paging Greg Toler— Mike Wells (@MikeWellsNFL) December 29, 2013
Greg Rakestraw of 1070 The Fan didn't think Davis would return to the game after noticing the cornerback was seated on the bench without a helmet:
No Vontae Davis on this drive for the #Colts. Currently seated on the bench, not wearing a helmet. Gotta think his day is done.— Greg Rakestraw (@gregrakestraw) December 29, 2013
Davis is the top cover corner for the Colts.
When he's healthy, the team's defensive secondary is much better than it is when he's not at his best or out of the lineup. With the playoffs looming, and given the potent arms in the AFC (Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, etc.), Davis' groin injury could be problematic for the Colts.
Jairus Byrd was injured in Week 17, and there's a chance the soon-to-be free agent has played his last game for the Buffalo Bills.
He suffered an ankle injury against New England on Dec. 29 that forced him out for the rest of the game, as noted by Chris Brown of BuffaloBills.com:
Jairus Byrd has been downgraded to out with his ankle injury. #Bills— Chris Brown (@ChrisBrownBills) December 29, 2013
Byrd was reluctant to sign his franchise tag before the season began, and he's been angling for a new contract for the past couple of years. When healthy, he's one of the NFL's premier safeties, and he'll likely sign a lucrative long-term contract with a new team for the 2014 season and beyond.
Second-year Denver Broncos safety Duke Ihenacho has been banged up often this season, and he suffered another injury in Week 17 against the Oakland Raiders.
As noted by the Broncos on Twitter, he suffered a concussion and was ruled out for the remainder of the game:
Denver will have a first-round bye in the playoffs, which gives Ihenacho a chance to recover from this latest injury before the team hosts its first game in the Divisional Round. Given the team's already struggling defense, it's going to be difficult for the Broncos if he's unable to play.