Here’s how iconic sports have become. Out of the hundreds of thousands of plays ran in football, you can say two words (one of them being the word “the”), and everybody knows what play you are referring to: The Fumble, The Drive, The Catch, The Catch II, The Immaculate Reception, The Tackle, The Holy Roller, The Helmet Catch, and my favorite, simply The Play! Well with another playoff classic happening on Saturday, Vernon Davis’ catch in the endzone is now being hailed “The Grab.” We’ll see if it sticks. Did anybody notice how eerily similar The Grab was to The Catch II? Davis even came out crying like TO!
49ers vs Saints analysis:
Two words describe this game best, “Instant Classic.” Battling back and forth the entire game, there were 4 lead changes in the last 4:02 seconds. Early turnovers really hurt the Saints and kept the 49ers in the game, but the 4th quarter started an offensive score-fest that I didn’t think the 49ers could keep up with statistically the best offense in regular season history. They took the lead with a little under 2 minutes left, but sure enough the Saints scored on a broken tackle with over 1:30 left. I’ll admit, I don’t think that Alex Smith is that good (and still not convinced). I did not think that Alex Smith had the onions to drive them down and score a TD. Sure enough he put together a remarkable drive, capped off with a thrilling catch in the endzone in traffic by Vernon Davis. After 6 horrible seasons, 1 game (or 1 season for that matter) doesn’t convince me that Alex Smith is all of a sudden great. But this was Alex Smith’s coming out party, and the whole nation watched it. Congrats to a guy who hasn’t had much to cheer about the last 7 years.
I Don’t Want a Pop-Tart Mommy, I want a Turnover:
This was definitely a weekend of turnovers. Both the Saints and Texans would have won, comfortably, had it not been for bad turnovers. Just shows that no matter which stat you look at, the turnover differential in the game tends to be the most important.
Mad Props to South Dakota:
Did anybody else see that the winners of the oldest age group that participated in the Punt Pass and Kick contest were both from South Dakota?!?! And then the announcers gave SD some major love too. Mad Props SD!
Broncos vs Patriots analysis:
There’s really not too much analysis for this game, other than the fact that Tom Brady came out with a chip on his shoulder. Somehow the 9-7 sophmore QB with a horrible passer rating got 90% of the attention coming into this game, while the 3 time Super Bowl winner and 2 time MVP got the other 10%. Well Brady showed the media up, throwing 5 TD’s in the first half (an NFL postseason record) and tying Steve Young’s 6 TD performance for most TD’s in the playoffs. I was disappointed in this game, mainly because I thought the Broncos would come out fighting, and because I thought that this would be the most exciting game of the weekend. Tebow has been named the starter for next year, but have teams already figured out their option style offense? We’ll find out in 7 months.
Stolen Stat #1:
The Patriots tight ends had 261 total yards and four touchdowns…In one game!
Stolen Stat #2:
The Broncos lost 4 of their last 5 games, yet made it to the Divisional Round of the playoffs.
Stat of the Week #3:
Proving the “Nevermore’s” Theory, the Ravens are 7-0 against teams making the playoffs this year, and only 6-4 against non-playoff teams.
Fictional Quote of the Week:
“I got a fever, and the only cure is more cowbell….and a Championship win” Eli Manning (sitting in practice because of a stomach bug).
Texans vs Ravens Analysis:
There’s one thing I learned from the first Sunday’s game: The Texans are legit. Even with a slew of turnovers giving the Ravens the ball already in the endzone, the Texans had multiple shots at the end to win the game. Matt Schaub would have won the game, so would better ball control. I expect the Texans to be deep in the playoffs again next year with all their pieces. The Ravens didn’t look that great to me. They scored 17 points (all off turnovers) in the first quarter, and only had one more FG the rest of the game. Arian Foster was also a beast. He was the first 100yd rusher given up by the Ravens in the postseason (16 games), and he had 95 of them by halftime! Jacoby Jones definitely had some butterlies, making an idiotic play on the ball during a punt after it had bounced. The next punt he also fumbled the ball but recovered it. Flacco did not live up to his “if we win this game none of the credit will go to me” comment, completing 50% of his passes for 176yds.
Giants vs Packers Analysis:
Before we get off to it, *tap tap tap*, that’s the sound of me patting myself on the back for picking the winner of this game! Even though having a bye, being fully rested, and having home field advantage, I felt like the Giants were the hot team coming into this game. And like FMQB says “the only thing worse than playing the #1 team in the playoffs is playing the Hot team!” The Giants pass rush has picked the right time to show up this year, Hakeem Nicks is turning into a playoff monster, and Eli Manning is proving that he is the “Eli-te” QB he asked to be. Even though being down, the ball was bouncing the Packers’ way in the first half (see Jennings’ “non-fumble”). But as soon as Bradshaw ripped off that 30yd run to give the Giants a shot at the endzone for a hail mary, and Eli miraculously connected on it! That’s when you knew the Packers were going to lose. Even the Giants secondary played brilliantly. I pointed out to FFMQB that you could literally see Rodgers go through 4 progressions, see nobody open, panic, and not know what to do. He’s had so many weapons all year that he probably never even got through his progressions. So props to the entire Giants defense, that’s what sealed the deal, although Manning, Nicks, and RBs were great too. Triple threat team, no end in sight.
Giants vs 49ers- This matchup screams 1980s! Phil Simms vs Joe Montana, Bill Walsh vs Bill Parcells. These 2 teams combined for 5 Super Bowl wins in the 80s. Plus the last time these 2 teams met in the playoffs, it was that crazy 2003 playoff game that had Michael Strahan telling TO to look at the scoreboard when the 49ers pulled within 17 points of the Giants. Little did Strahan know that the 24 point comeback would tie the postseason record as the 49ers came back to win that game. The Giants had a chance to win, but mishandled the FG snap and the holder heaved a hail mary. I remember that game vividly, hopefully this game would be similar. Plus Eli and Alex would be back to back #1 overall picks (2004 and 2005) playing each other. Two killer defenses vs two offenses that are also very adapt.
Final Score: Giants 27, 49ers 20
Chance of Giants pulling the upset: 80%
Ravens vs Patriots- Three years ago this would have been a defensive matchup, but now it’s Brady’s high flying offense vs the Ravens stingy defense. And then Flacco’s “managing of the offense” vs the Patriots Donut Defense (the one with all the holes in it). It should be an interesting matchup because the Ravens will be able to score on offense against the worst defense in the league. So it will all come down to how much their D can contain Tom Brady, or at least keep up with him. The matchups will come down to whether their LB’s can effectively cover the Patriots TE’s. I don’t give that matchup to the Ravens aging LB’s, so watch for another big game by Hernandez and Gronkowski. But Brady hasn’t been practicing all week, will that make him rusty at all? Ed Reed has also been a thorn in Brady’s side, but was hurt in the Texans game, we will see how effective he can be.
Final Score: Ravens 24, Patriots 38
Chance of Ravens pulling the upset: 35%
Hopeful Super Bowl Matchups:
There are so many story lines hidden within all the possible matchups of the Super Bowl, that each one would be intriguing. Here are the possibilities we could see.
49ers vs Ravens: Rematch of a regular season snoozefest, but would pit both Harbaugh brothers against each other to see who gets their first Super Bowl. Ironic that in a season of offensive stats-mania that 2 defensive teams would be in the big game.
Giants vs Patriots: Rematch of Super Bowl 42, and a killer game in the regular season. The Giants have won the past 2 matchups in close fashion, it should be an interesting game.
Giants vs Ravens: Rematch of Super Bowl in 2000 in which the Ravens D killed Kerry Collins and the Giants. This was the game that Ray Lewis was put on the map, if he won the big game against the Giants again would he think about retirement?
49ers vs Patriots: Interesting matchup between offense and defense. Tom Brady’s favorite team growing up was the 49ers, would he have it in him to crush them in the Super Bowl?
Super Bowl Prediction:
If the Giants win Sunday, then the Giants will win it all. The only chance the AFC has is if the 49ers win on Sunday, in which case either the Patriots or Ravens have it in the bag. But overall, c’mon, do we really expect Alex Smith and Joe Flacco to lead their teams to victory? My vote goes to Brady and Eli! My ultimate prediction? Patriots vs Giants in the big game, and the Giants will win the Super Bowl!
Terrell Owens Back To Dallas!
Ok not the Jerry Jones Dallas, more like the Tom and Jerry Dallas. TO has actually signed a contract and become part owner of an IFL team who’s season starts in February, so we will see TO back on the football field! Part of me thinks this is some sort of publicity stunt, but it would be fun to see. To be 100% honest, how does nobody pick him up this year? I know he brings drama, he’s old, and was coming off a knee injury. He had 983 yds and 9 TD’s with the Bengals last year, that’s a heck of a season!
Forget LA, the Rams are Moving To London!
The Rams just signed a 3 year deal to play in London for 3 straight years. The first game is against the Patriots this year (sorry England fans, but you don’t get a very competitive game). How do the Rams commit to 3 straight years where they have 9 road games and 7 home games?!?! This is why it’s so frustrating to be a fan. You get excited for a new coach and all of a sudden we disadvantage ourselves by only having home field advantage 7 times in a season.
Kudos to those of you who could actually picture “The Plays” happening above, but for a quick cheat sheet, here are what “THE” plays were:
The Fumble: AFC Championship Game in the 80’s where Cleveland’s Earnest Byner fumbled on the 2 yd line while trying to punch in the game clinching TD. Elway and the Broncos then led a 98 yd drive to win the game and go to the Super Bowl.
The Drive: Ironically the year before “The Fumble,” these same 2 teams in the AFC Championship game. Elway led the Broncos 98 yards (again) to win the game with 37 seconds left.
The Catch: Playoff game in the 80’s between the 49ers and Cowboys. Joe Montana led the 49ers down to the endzone at the end of the game. This unique camera angle makes it look like Montana is throwing the ball away, but all of a sudden Clark’s hands come and snatches the ball out of the air for the game winning TD.
The Catch II: Crazy playoff game in the late 90s between Steve Young’s 49ers and Brett Favre’s Packers. With only seconds left, Young heaves a ball to a rookie Terrell Owens, who makes the catch as he gets nailed by 3 different Packers. TO comes up crying tears of joy.
The Immaculate Reception: Playoff game between the Steelers and Raiders. It’s 4th down and Bradshaw throws to one of his receivers who gets hit as the ball arrives. The ball goes flying back, but RB Franco Harris stoops down and snags the ball an inch from the ground and runs 30 yards for a TD to win the game.
The Tackle: My personal favorite as it still gives me chills! Super Bowl in 1999 between the Titans and Rams. Rams scored with under 2 minutes left, but Steve McNair drives the Titans down to the 10 yard line with one play left. A quick slant to Kevin Dyson gets stopped at the 1 yard line by Mike Jones as time expires. My vote for radio call of all time “Kevin Dyson, reaches for the goal line, NO!”
The Holy Roller: Odd play between the Raiders and Chargers in a playoff game. The ball is fumbled, and ends up being kicked and swatted at 7 or 8 times as it rolls 30 yards into the endzone before it is recovered by the Raiders for a TD.
The Helmet Catch: In Super Bowl 42, called the greatest play the Super Bowl has ever produced. On the final drive of the game, Eli Manning gets rushed and grabbed by 3 Patriots and somehow gets out of it. Then heaves a 40 yard pass in which Rodney Harrison and David Tyree both jump up for. Tyree somehow catches it on his helmet with Harrison’s hand in the middle of everything.
The Play: College football game between rivals Stanford and Cal. Stanford scores with no time left except to kick the ball off. Standford kicks off, and Cal produces roughly 8 controversial laterals before a Bears player was free and running to the endzone. But with the game seemingly in hand, the Stanford marching band was already coming onto the field. To add insult to injury, the Bears player leaps into the endzone only to knock down the trombone player as he’s celebrating. Another great call of all time “The Band is out on the FIELD!”
Next Week: If Eli wins the Super Bowl this year, who would be the “Better Manning?”