Photo Credit: http://www.king5.com
Despite only 2 games this weekend, the football world has been abuzz by both Championship contests played Sunday. I will be doing a recap blog this week regarding those games, and saving the Super Bowl Preview one for next week.
Packers at Seahawks:
There is so much to talk about this game, that I hardly know where to start. If football is a story, then this game was an autobiography of William Shakespeare ghostwritten by Charles Dickens! In terms of a game from start to finish, I would rank this probably in my Top 2, and struggle to think of a complete game that would beat it out for #1. We had turnovers, great defense yet high scoring, a fake field goal, a crazy comeback, an onside kick, a crazy 2 point conversion, a game tying drive by an injured QB, and a TD to win in OT!!! Games can have crazy plays or great drives, but this game was even exciting in the 1st quarter. Take a look at the first quarter breakdown. GB- INT, SEA- INT, GB- Field Goal, SEA- Fumble, GB- Field Goal, SEA- Punt, GB- Touchdown. The Seahawks started the game with 6 plays for 3 yards, and by that time the Packers already had 4 possessions. It didn’t help that the Seahawks had turnovers on back to back plays, but they still managed to only be down 13-0 (more on this later). The most telling series is when Green Bay got a 2nd and 1. They ran twice from the 1 yard line and got stuffed on both, and had to kick a field goal. Personally I think you go for it here, because if you run it 3 times from the 1 yard line and can’t get in, then you don’t deserve to win the game anyway. Russell Wilson started the game 0-6, and by halftime was 1-8 with 3 INT’s, and the Seahawks had 4 turnovers.
The 3rd quarter was the only slowdown in the game, as it featured four 3 and outs, but also had an amazing fake field goal for a Touchdown. Two things were great about this play. First was AJ Hawk’s brilliant split second decision. I know, he got beat on the play, but he could either try to tackle the punter and leave the receiver wide open, or drop off in coverage and let the punter run for the first down. Deciding to take on the punter was genius in my opinion, yet risky. But he’s forcing a guy who never throws, to drop a perfect pass to a lineman who never catches. That decision needs to be quick, but was the right one to lower the percentage of actually completing it.
Russell Wilson looked to be having a dreadful day when he threw his 4th interception with 5 minutes left in the game and still down 2 touchdowns. Here is arguably where the Packers lost the game, although yours truly was yelling at the screen to run the ball. Looking back, it’s easy to say that the Packers were too conservative the final 3 drives, if you keep your foot on the gas pedal and even kick a field goal they win. But with 6 minutes left, the biggest enemy for the Seahawks was the clock, and keep in mind that the offense didn’t score a touchdown the first 57 minutes of the game. I typically hate this tactic, but was cheering as each 40 seconds or Seattle timeout was burned. Then the onside kick happened. I don’t want to be too hard on Bostic, but despite the ball coming right at him, his job was to block and let Jordy Nelson catch it. You can’t make that mistake in this game. The second that happened, our household knew that Seattle was going to win it. Sure enough, 4 plays later Seattle was lining up with the lead for a 2 point conversion.
For the final chapter of this book, we’ll start with the craziest 2 point conversion you’ll ever see! Pressure broke down immediately and Wilson was running for his life backwards. He spins around and throws up a prayer, which is caught by his tight end. How Ha Ha Clinton-Dix didn’t knock that ball down is beyond me, he had 2 picks already, but stick a hand in there! All of a sudden Green Bay was on their heels, but managed to put together a quick drive and kick a field goal to take it into overtime. Overtime took a whopping 6 plays, but the momentum had shifted and Kearse got his first catch of the game for the game winner. I think every Packers player, fan, and myself was in complete shock of what we just witnessed. I was going for the Packers, but I’ll remember this game for the rest of my life.
Remember how 2 weeks ago, the Cowboys needed about 5 things to go perfectly for them to win the game? Well the Packers needed about 7 things to go wrong to lose the game. Two goal line stops that settled for Field Goals (8 points left off the board). Rodgers 2nd pick while in FG range (we’ll assume 3 points left off). The 3rd and 19 that Seattle converted right before the fake FG (take 7 off for Seattle). Packers defender hitting the ground after the pick (would have changed field position for Seattle). Onside kick madness (ends the game, takes off another 6 points for Seattle). The 2 point conversion, Knock It Down! (Takes off 2 points).
Conservative estimate, it should have been 27-0 at halftime. Realistically the game should have ended 30-6 Packers (we’ll give the Seahawks the benefit of the doubt on their one TD drive). Even if 6 of the 7 things go wrong for Green Bay, they still win the game in regulation. That’s a tough one to swallow.
I’m a little surprised that Rodgers didn’t go after Richard Sherman, it was obvious he was in pain and could only use one arm. Also impressive that Earl Thomas (one of the biggest hitters on Seattle’s D) played most of the game with a separated shoulder.
I mentioned this as it happened, but Clay Matthews drew a penalty for absolutely smoking Russell Wilson after an interception. I think that’s probably the best penalty you can take in a game. Wilson didn’t seem to shake the cobwebs until late in the 4th.
Colts at Patriots:
As good as the first game was, that’s how bad this one became. The Colts went 3 and out, and then muffed a punt to give the Patriots an easy TD. You could almost argue that the game was over at that point, or else when the Patriots went up 14-0 after Vinatieri actually missed a FG for once in his life. The score was at least close at halftime, with NE up 17-7, but the 3rd quarter was a different story. Take a look at the drives in the 3rd: Pats- Touchdown. Indy- 3 and out. Pats- Touchdown. Indy- Interception. Pats- 1 play for a Touchdown. Indy- 3 and out…That right there was the story of the game. And there’s really not much else to talk about until Monday…
As most readers know, I can’t stand the Patriots and everything about them. I still hold a grudge from the 2001 season when they beat my Rams and launched the Brady-Belichick era (on a side note, my wife knows to never make me mad about anything). I have always felt like Tom Brady was cocky, Bill Belichick was a sore loser, and the team in general cheats. I want to point this out so readers are surprised at my sentiment- Deflategate really isn’t that big of a deal. The game itself wasn’t even close, and New England crushed the Colts in every single aspect of the game. 2 PSI could account for a touchdown here or a 3rd down there, but doesn’t account for the time of possession of the Patriots, the fact they ran ALL OVER the Colts for 3 touchdowns, or that Andrew Luck couldn’t get anything going. In fact, the Patriots had more fumbles than the Colts did, and they ran it 40 times (vs 35 passes). This isn’t Spygate, and it’s also been proven that when it’s cold out the ball loses pressure. My theory is that Brady prefers the ball on the light side, so he has his equipment staff inflate to the bare minimum (maybe 12.6 PSI). In the 2 hours after the refs inspect them, if they’re in the cold they could easily be well under the minimum. Even if it was on purpose, I’m not buying into this being a 2 week story.
Final 4 Season Recap:
Something I didn’t quite realize last week, but what a transformation that all 4 teams that played for the Super Bowl last weekend. The Colts started 0-2 and an initial panic set in for Indy fans. The Patriots started 2-2, including a 41-14 rout by the Chiefs that had commentators saying Brady was done. The Seahawks started 3-3, were 3rd in their division, and many felt that a Super Bowl hangover was looming. And the Packers started 1-2 and warranted Aaron Rodgers to tell fans to “R-E-L-A-X.” The point I’m making, is that by Week 4, you would have been crazy to pick all 4 teams to make it to where they ended up. I had a post at the very beginning talking about it being Time to Panic. It’s kind of an interesting re-read; Especially the “Scary Thought” insight about the Seahawks chance at a repeat.
Stat of the Week:
Through the first 55 minutes, Russell Wilson was 8-22 with 75 yards, 0 TD’s and 4 INT’s.
Stat of the Week #2:
Seattle WR Jermaine Kearse was targeted 6 times on Sunday. The result of those targets was Interception, Interception, Interception, Interception, Incompletion, Game Winning Touchdown. (This is my favorite stat of this year)
Stat of the Week #3:
11 out of the 12 balls the Patriots submitted were found to be deflated. If you’re gonna cheat, at least be subtle about it!
Stat of the Week #4:
This is the Patriots 6th Super Bowl in 14 years, that’s nearly every other year they’re in the big game!
Unofficial Stat of the Week:
Can anybody tell me if a game has ever been played where a Rodgers caught a pass from a Rodgers, and a Willson caught a pass from a Wilson?
Hidden Gem of the Week:
Watching punter Jon Ryan “put on the belt” (Aaron Rodgers dance move) after throwing the touchdown was pure brilliance!
Number of the Week:
12…Each team had a “12” leading them on Sunday. Luck, Brady, and Rodgers all wear the number 12, while the Seahawks have the 12th man.
Quote of the Week:
“It makes me feel deflated….ahhhh” Andrew Luck, when answering how missing the Super Bowl felt. Then realized that his awesome pun was not intentional
Quote of the Week #2:
“All I have to say is we’re on to Seattle” Bill Belichick, poking fun of himself for his terse “We’re on to Cincinnati” earlier this year.
Quote of the Week #3:
“I’m going to go get a head start at packing for my trip” FFMQB with about 5 minutes left in the 3rd period of the Patriots victory
“I’m jealous, I don’t even know if I want to waste an hour of my life watching the rest of this game!” FMQB
Quote of the Week #4:
“This one will sting for a bit…like an entire career” Aaron Rodgers
Awesome Twitter Handle:
Wade Phillips (who is 67 by the way) has a Twitter account, and his handle is @sonofabum. His father was Bum Phillips, but that made me giggle.
Two things to mention on the coaching front. First, I wonder how Doug Marrone is feeling right now? He went from being the head coach of the Bills, to deciding to opt out of his contract and only landing an Offensive Line Coach for one of the worst teams in the NFL (Jacksonville). Wonder if he’s regretting that decision now.
Second thing, what a win for Chicago this offseason. They not only got a 2 time Super Bowl coach (albeit losing both), but they also got Adam Gase, probably one of the top offensive coordinators in the league and a surprise non-head coach pick. Fox and Gase have worked together for 3 years, and already have a good relationship and system in place.