This past weekend is the epitome of why I love the NFL. High scoring, big comebacks, exciting play, and nail biter games! I watched Sunday’s Broncos vs Ravens game and immediately knew I was watching the Game of the Year! Then on Sunday, I watched the end of the Atlanta game to see the Seahawks come back down by 20 in the 4th quarter to be ahead with 31 seconds left, only to have Matt Ryan do a crazy drive for a last minute FG. My initial thought after that game? “Wow that was the Game of the Year!” This is why I LOVE the NFL playoffs!
Stat of the Week #1:
Tim Tebow has won more playoff games in Denver than Peyton Manning…just saying
Stat of the Week #2:
Each team scored at least 28 points, making it the highest scoring round of the playoffs in NFL history
Stat of the Week #3:
The Broncos game was tied at 7, 14, 21, 28, and 35
Stat of the Week #4:
Trindon Holliday played the entire season, and just lost his first game on Sunday. How? He played for Houston before being cut in Week 6 (right before their loss). He was picked up by Denver, who went on to win their past 11 games. So that was his first loss!
Trivia of the Week:
Joe Flacco is the only QB in NFL history to win a playoff game in his first 5 seasons. JOE FLACCO!
Broncos vs Ravens– Wow, I don’t even know where to start with this game. Definitely one of the best games I’ve ever seen, and nothing beat OT (or Double OT) in the playoffs! The game went back and forth, no team ever leading by more than 7, and the game was tied 6 different times. At times it looked like the Broncos had the momentum, other times the Ravens looked strong. The Broncos return team was amazing, and Trindon Holliday became the first person in NFL history with a Punt and Kick return in the same playoff game. It was back and forth until the Broncos scored within the 2 minute warning. Flacco launched a 70 yd bomb, to Jacoby Jones for a TD. First off, with 70 yds to go and less than a minute, HOW DO YOU LET ANYBODY GET BEHIND YOU!!! Then, the debate will go on whether Peyton should have tried to go 50yds in 31 seconds for the win, but they went to OT. In Double OT, Peyton threw a pick that led to a FG. Fourth longest game in NFL history (only the 5th to ever go to double OT)!
Packers vs 49ers– One stat-line of the night explains it all. 181 yards rushing, 444 total yards, 4 TD’s…And those weren’t the 49ers’ stats, all of those were racked up by Colin Kaepernick alone!!! Kaepernick put on a clinic Saturday night, with a college offense. He dominated the read option, and threw accurate balls when needed. Even with the Packers able to score readily on the 49ers D, there was no way they could keep up with that. San Francisco will be a dangerous team the next few weeks for sure.
Seahawks vs Atlanta– Once again, don’t know where to start with this game. First of all, I would like to give props again to Russell Wilson for getting down early and staying calm. Hell, he was down late and still stayed calm! I’m not saying this just to say it, but in the second half I truly didn’t feel like the game was over like I normally would. You could just feel that the Seahawks were about to explode. They scored once to make it 20-7, but then Atlanta answered to make it 27-7 (which is was going into the 4th quarter). Begin comeback! After2 quick TD’s and 2 quick defensive starts, the Seahawks drove down to score with 31 seconds left! Couldn’t believe that Matt Ryan was able to get into FG range, going over 40 yards in 31 seconds (the same 31 seconds Manning had…). Overall, absolutely crazy game!
New England vs Houston– Disappointing game (because the Patriots won), but otherwise another enjoyable one. Even with the pure domination of the Patriots, the Texans showed life and were able to score. Actually, if the Texans would have played the entire game like they played in the 4th quarter, they would have easily won the game. The dagger came when the Texans had a 90yd drive where they just pounded and pounded for each yard. Finally scoring a TD, the Patriots then get the ball and score on the first play. That had to be heartbreaking.
Playoff Bracket Challenge:
Yours truly and FFMQB (my girlfriend, and I’m not making her up!) set up a playoff bracket, and the loser had to cook the other person dinner for a week! I had Broncos vs 49ers in the Super Bowl, and she had Broncos vs Falcons. But earlier round picks, she’s beating me for the 3rd year in a row! I had the Colts pick wrong in round 1, she was perfect. Then we both lost the Broncos, and the deciding game was the Falcons game. I was convinced the Seahawks were going to win, and she likes the Falcons, so even a nail biter in our side league, and I’m about to pay out…
My Three Thoughts for the Week:
-Congrats to Matt Ryan and Tony Gonzalez for their first playoff wins
-Worst game I’ve ever seen Champ Bailey play, he got beat several times. Apparently he only let up 1 TD all year too.
-Why would the Chargers hire the Broncos offensive coordinator, it’s not like he called plays this year!
So much for parity:
The Final 4 Teams are the same as last year, except for the fact that Atlanta is in there instead of the Giants (Giants beat Atlanta last year in the playoffs).
Practice Makes Perfect:
There were 2 game winning field goals this past weekend, both from the crazy games. Somehow both kickers got 2 tries at the kick! Baltimore’s Justin Tucker’s was by far the most bizarre. The Ravens called timeout before the kick, and tucker ran out onto the field with a coach and took a practice kick right in front of the refs. Is that legal?!?! Not sure, but they let it happen, and Tucker came out and booted the 2nd one (the real one) in for the win. In the Atlanta game, Matt Bryant had 2 shots at the kick once Pete Carroll tried to ice him (more to come next). But this was more of a practice shot as well. Carroll called it so early that half the team wasn’t even set.
Congrats to Bruce Arians. He was the Colts interim coach when Pagano was fighting leukemia. I felt Arians handled the situation marvelously, and was more than willing to give up “his team” at the end of the season when Pagano came back (not that he had a choice). But for the record, Arians was 9-3 with the Colts, Pagano was 2-3. I was definitely rooting for Arians to get a look somewhere this year, so congrats on your new gig with the Cardinals!
You could argue that 2 of the losses over the weekend can be pinned on the coaching strategy. John Fox has been called out on 2 decisions, not to go for the game clinching 1st down on 3rd and 7 (he ran instead to milk the clock) and to take a knee at the 20 yard line with 31 seconds left instead of going for a FG with 2 timeouts. I saw the statistic but don’t remember it, but apparently in 178 occurrences with the game tied and less than a minute left in a playoff game, there were only 2 that led to a winning play, 5 that resulted in a turnover (worst case scenario), and 171 ended up going into OT. John Fox is right, a turnover is a more likely result which could lead to the game not even making it into OT at all. BUT, it is the conservative call, which fans don’t like. Same with the 3rd and 7. Not sure how I feel about that strategy, because if you throw an incomplete pass, you immediately give the team an extra 40 seconds. But running it also pretty much ensures they have another chance on offense, just with less time.
The second was with Pete Carroll’s icing of Matt Bryant who missed the first field goal with his practice try. Personally, I hate the whole icing the kicker thing. It’s always going to be questioned and backfire in my opinion. Plus, you give the kicker a practice shot, he can see the rush, and judge the wind if necessary. Mike Shanahan is the worst offender, I know I’ve seen him lose at least 3 games this way. I’ll back Pete Carroll on his call, normally I don’t like how coaches wait until the last second (guaranteeing a practice kick), however he called it extremely early. Nobody was set, but Bryant somehow got a kick off nevertheless, so I can’t fault Carroll too much.
Super Bowl Matchups I’d Like to See:
Love to see Ravens vs 49ers. Harbaugh bowl, 2 defensive teams, Ray Lewis’ last stand!
Super Bowl Matchup we will Probably See:
Patriots vs 49ers. Still should be a good game if it’s close to the Sunday Night matchup earlier this year (49ers won), but I’ll do anything to not see the Patriots in it again.
For the Record:
Not sure I’ve seen a #1 seed get as much disrespect as the Falcons. The team is at home, but I’m with everybody else, I just really don’t see any scenario of them winning the Super Bowl this year (or even getting there).