Photo credit: NFL.com
11 Seconds In:
Wild Card Weekend opened up with a bang! The Chiefs took the opening kickoff back for a TD, and immediately deflated the raucous Houston crowd. Little did we know, we could have turned the TV off 11 seconds into the game. Houston didn’t show up, and turned the ball over 5 times in the game, 2 of which were in the 1st quarter. It was also the first playoff shutout in a decade. A few of Brian Hoyer’s throws were to a wide open Chief, not a Texan in sight. The Chiefs on the other hand looked dominant and played complete football. They’re on 11 straight wins now.
The Steelers Bengals game made up for the sleeper earlier in the afternoon. The first few quarters were a rainy mess, and after a handful of field goals, the Steelers finally got in the endzone after 40 minutes of play, and took a 15-0 lead. After that things got interesting. Roethlisberger got hurt and backup Landry Jones came in. Possessions went as followed: Bengals TD, Steelers Punt, Bengals FG, Steelers Punt, Bengals TD to take a 16-15 lead, and then Jones throws an interception on the first play, and giving the Bengals the ball at the 26 yard line with 1:43 left. The Bengals seriously only needed to run the ball 3 times, kick a chip shot FG, and they’d be up by 4. Instead, Jeremy Hill fumbled the ball on the first play, starting the Bengals implosion. The Steelers would drive down, with the help of two 15 yard penalties on the same play, which set up the game winning field goal. Hands down, if the two teams weren’t rivals, the Bengals win that game. Let’s take a quick step back here. When the teams met in Week 14, a fight broke out at midfield before the game with Vontaze Burfict in the middle of it go figure. It was odd early in the game when a Bengals player ran into Steelers coach Mike Munchak, who proceeded to throw the opposing player into the benches by his dreadlocks for a rare coaches penalty. Later in the game, Giovanni Bernard caught a quick pass and was immediately leveled by a helmet to helmet hit. Things were beginning to get chippy. On what seemed to be the final Steelers drive, Vontaze Burfict looked like a hero by intercepting the ball and giving them a chance to run out the clock. He went from Hero to Goat several plays later, when he demolished Antonio Brown with a helmet to helmet, concussion causing hit on a defenseless receiver. Linebackers Coach Joey Porter was then on the field (which is illegal by the way) in the middle of a scrum when Pacman Jones came and shoved him. The helmet to helmet hit of course got 15 yards, but then they also enforced the second flag as “in between downs.” So the Steelers went from their own 41, to the CIN 32 (the math doesn’t add up, I realize), but it was 30 yards of penalties in one play! Right call, I’ve just never seen that before. Stupid ending to an amazing game. Both Jones and Burfict cost their team a playoff win, and were lucky their coach wasn’t fired for it.
Icing the Kicker:
Sunday’s game between the Seahawks and Vikings ended up being the 3rd coldest in NFL history, and you could tell. The ball looked like a rock, downfield throws were absent, snaps were mishandled, and the halftime score was 3-0. On a personal note, I spent about 30 minutes in my car, and a total of 2 minutes outside, and it was bitterly cold. The cold also cracked my windshield and I popped a tire. Only one TD was scored in the game, and it was nearly 50 minutes into it. I think all Vikings fans started to think they could lose the game with the crazy Russell Wilson play. Not even ready for the snap, the ball flew 10 yards passed him. He ran back and fell on the ball to keep possession, but no Vikings defenders were near him. So he got up, and hit his receiver (who wasn’t even supposed to run a route that play, and took the ball down to the 4 yard line. Wilson fell on the ball at his own 45, and the play ended just outside the endzone; at 51 yard difference on a botched play. Getting to the elephant in the room, how do you miss that kick?!?! Especially after hitting 3 early field goals, this was his shortest attempt. His last kick was at the end of the 3rd quarter, so there was probably 45 minutes of real time since his last attempt. Talk about icing the kicker! Despite the backlash, Blair Walsh had the only points on the day. His team couldn’t get into the endzone, so the Vikings have no excuse. I think it is because of this that Walsh has gotten a surprising amount of support. But as Vikings fans are saying, other than Gary Anderson, this one hurts the most.
You Like That:
The one game I got wrong all week, but the Packers decided to show up on Sunday; at least for 3 quarters. The first quarter looked bad after a quick safety and FG. Rodgers was looking defeated on the sidelines very early into the game. The Washington crowd was rocking after a TD by DeSean Jackson, but this was the turning point of the game. He didn’t get the ball in the endzone, so they had 1st and Goal from the 1, but they couldn’t punch it in which was a 4 point swing. Things seemed to change for the Packers after that, and they scored on 6 of their next 7 drives to put it out of reach. They had a truly balanced attack, running 32 times and throwing 36. You never know which Packer team will show up nowadays, but when they chose to come and play they look Championship caliber.
Stat of the Week:
Blair Walsh led the NFL in FG made this year, and was one of 5 kickers who were 100% on extra points. In all the NFL field goals that were 27 yards or less, the field went 189 for 191, or 99%
Playoff Quick Hits:
- All 4 road playoff teams won for the first time in playoff history
- Kudos to the 88 year old Bud Grant. Coming to do the cointoss in a T-Shirt for the 3rd coldest game. That’s badass!
- The Chiefs won a playoff game for the first time in 22 years. Their last win was also from an ex-49er QB over a Houston team
Quote of the Week #1:
“ARE YOU KIDDING ME! THE SEASON CAN’T END LIKE THAT!!!” Paul Allen
Quote of the Week #2:
“Kroenke Sucks, Kroenke Sucks” Chant that broke out at a St. Louis Blues game. Yes, that was at a Hockey game
Quote of the Week #3:
“You like that? You like that?” Chant that broke out from Redskins fan. Hilarious
“You like that?” Randall Cobb upon winning the game. Hilarious again
Chiefs at Patriots: Chiefs have won 11 straight, Patriots have lost 4 of 6. Last year the Chiefs demolished them 41-14, leading to the “We’re on to Cincinnati” quote from Belichick and the Patriots revival. The Patriots are far from invincible, but the bye week will help. This is a closer contest, but I think the Chiefs take them down 24-23.
Packers at Cardinals: The last time these two teams met in the playoffs, 96 points were scored. Three weeks ago the Cardinals blew them out 38-8. I think the right Packer team shows up, but that we’ll have another shootout. I have the Cards making the Super Bowl which means they have to win this game 39-35.
Seahawks at Panthers: Rematch from last year’s playoffs which was also in the Divisional round, but Seattle handled the Panthers easily at 31-17. They played in the regular season this year, and Seattle was up 23-14 until the Panthers came back and scored a TD with 32 seconds left to win it 27-23. This was during Seattles rough stretch of the season, and I think they’re a different team now. I have this as the upset of the weekend, with Seattle squeaking by at 24-21.
Steelers at Broncos: Last time they faced off in the playoffs, Tebow won the game on the first play in OT. Now Peyton Manning has one last shot at some magic against a beat up Steelers team. People would love to see a Brady Manning matchup one last time, or see Manning get another shot at a title. I think they handle the Steelers 31-27.
May be a bit of a rant here, but here’s the unique perspective of a Rams fan who isn’t from St. Louis. The whole relocation issue was a shit show from the beginning. Neither San Diego nor Oakland had stadium plans, but St. Louis had a 400 page proposal, backing from all the politicians, public funding, and they’re the ones to leave?!?! Kroenke is from Missouri, and vowed in 2010 to never move the team from his hometown. Instead he writes an incendiary paper declaring that St. Louis is a crappy town and doesn’t deserve a team. Apparently the Gateway to the West now means that it’s a building block for franchises to move on to either Arizona or LA. The worst part was the day of the meetings, all of the sources were saying that the Chargers Raiders plan was getting the most support. Apparently what it came down to was production value. One owner said watching the Rams proposal was like watching Star Wars, and the Chargers proposal (which had the CEO of Disney on board) was like watching a ‘70s movie. That’s ridiculous! St. Louis fans are feeling scorned from this one, and I am too. I grew up with the Greatest Show on Turf. That was built in St. Louis, not LA. St. Louis has a Super Bowl ring, LA doesn’t. I’m struggling to stay a fan at this point. It’s not like North Stars fans became Dallas fans when they left. So we’ll see where my heart is at in 8 months. All in all, revenge will be sweet. There are 2 lawsuits so far against Kroenke from fans. And now the Rams who needed a new stadium are now playing in a venue that’s 95 years old. My final piece of redemption, is that some auto dealership from my hometown in Rapid City, SD owns the domain losangelesrams.com. He did it in ’97, 3 years after they moved, to make a tribute site to his favorite team. He is now up for a major payday should Kroenke want the logical website.