Sunday, January 13, 2013

Pro Football - NFL Divisional Playoffs, Weekend in Review

Baltimore Ravens @ Denver Broncos

Tim Tebow - 1, Peyton Manning - 0. Nobody is going to want to talk about it, but let's face it, a lot of people are thinking it. Two years in a row the Broncos start their playoff run with a home game against an AFC North opponent. Two years in a row the game goes into overtime. Tim Tebow won, Peyton Manning didn't. How you feeling now,  Elway?

To be fair, I'm not going to give the majority of the blame for the Broncos loss to Peyton Manning (despite throwing the interception that led to the game winning field goal). I'm not even going to give the majority of the blame to the terrible Broncos secondary that gave up the game tying touchdown near the end of regulation. The honor of "blame" goes squarely on the shoulders of Broncos head coach John Fox. Why you ask? With 2:00 minutes remaining in the game the Broncos had a 3rd down and a 7 point lead. Instead of giving the ball to the multi-million dollar star quarterback with a chance to seal the win, Coach Fox decides to hand the ball to the rookie running back and let the clock run. Well John, the clock didn't run long enough. Infact, it ran so little that we come to mistake number 2. Even after the defensive collapse, the Broncos got the ball back with 31 seconds left and 2 timeouts. Again, instead of letting Peyton Manning work his magic, John Fox decided to take a knee and go to overtime. And we see how that turned out.

Amid the coaching mistakes, poor defense, and bad pass from the Broncos in the 4th quarter and overtime, let's not lose sight of one thing ... the Ravens played one heck of a ballgame. They were an overwhelming underdog but fought for the entire game. When the final kick sailed through the uprights, they earned the win.

Green Bay Packers @ San Francisco 49ers

I'll be the first person to admit it, I was wrong about Colin Kaepernick. I was certain that the 2nd year QB out of Nevada was going to come into the playoffs and absolutely suck it up, proving that Alex Smith is getting shafted. When Colin K came out in their first possession and threw a pick 6 to Sam Shields, I smiled. And not just because I grew up as a fan of the U and that pass was 1 more that Shields caught than I can remember him having in 4 years at Miami. But low and behold, the kid regained his composure and ended up having one of the all time great playoff performance by a QB. Props to him, he showed that a scrambling signal caller really can get it done on the big stage.

Outside of the performance from Kaepernick, Saturday night's game was a demonstration of what has been hurting the Packers all season long. You can only have a crappy defense and offensive line for so long before it's going to bite you. Aaron Rodgers can only throw so well when he's flat on his back and Green Bay just couldn't hang with the athleticism of the 49ers.

Speaking of which, I have two words for everyone to remember: LaMichael James. Right now, as a rookie who has barely played, James is one of the top 5 running backs  in the NFL. Watch out, before all is said and done this post season, James is going to have an impact on who wins the Super Bowl.

Seattle Seahawks @ Atlanta Falcons

What started out as a snoozer turned into the very definition of an Instant Classic. The first half of this game was more or less a complete joke ... Seattle couldn't move the ball and the Falcons just kept pouncing. Infact, when the score hit 20-0 at the break, I sent my buddy Charles a message that said "Time to bench the starters to rest up for next week." What I did not anticipate was that the Seahawks were going to wake up in the second half.

Coming out of the locker room, the Falcons put the game on cruise control but Seattle put the pedal to the metal. Even when they were down 20 at the start of the 4th quarter, they kept fighting and never gave up. For those of you who missed it because you had already flipped to re-runs of Buckwild on MTV, here's what you missed:

- Seattle touchdown early in the 4th quarter on a nice drive down the field. 27-14 Falcons
- "Matty Ice" interception on the next Falcons possession.
- Seattle touchdown after the turnover taking advantage of the short field. 27-21 Falcons
- Falcons drive goes nowhere. Seattle drive goes nowhere. Falcons drive goes nowhere. Seattle ball with around 3 minutes to play.
- Seattle picks apart the Atlanta defense and scores a Lynch rushing touchdown with 31 seconds left. Extra point gives a 28-27 lead to the Seahawks.
- After the kickoff, Matt Ryan completes a 20 yard pass down the left side to Douglas followed by a 20 yard pass over the middle to Tony Gonzalez. With no timeouts left, Matt Bryant connects on a 49 yard field goal with 8 seconds left on the clock. Falcons up 30-28
- The Falcons inexplicably squib the ball directly to the Seahawks front line on the kickoff. Seahawks ball at their own 48 with 6 seconds remaining.
- After a short completion of 4 yards, Julio Jones of the Falcons intercepts an attempted Hailmary by the Seahawks to end the game.

Unbelievable last 15 minutes ... as they said on TV: "If you bought a ticket to this game, it was worth every penny."

Houston Texans @ New England Patriots

I should mention that as I'm writing this, there's still more than 13 minutes left to go in the 4th quarter. And as we saw in the game above, anything can happen in the NFL. But in this case, I really doubt it.

Here's a summary of how this game has gone: The Patriots kickoff to start the game. Manning of the Texans puts together a very impressive 94 yard return to the Patriots 12 before getting tackled from behind by a Patriots special teams player. Houston goes on to do nothing good the rest of the game. Although New England took just a 4 point lead to halftime, they blew the gates wide open in the second half. At press time, they lead by 25.

Disappointing end to what has been an outstanding weekend of football. If somehow the Texans pull off the miracle comeback ... who am I kidding? Ain't gonna happen folks.

- Fishy

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