Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Thoughts on the NFL Playoffs

Well, I was a little off with my prediction/style of game for the Saints-Niners, but I absolutely loved the last four minutes of that game. I loved seeing Vernon Davis do his thing and Alex Smith harness his inner Montana and Young and lead a drive for the ages, finally delivering the decisive strike to Davis with just nine seconds on the clock, knocking the Saints out of the postseason in dramatic fashion for the second straight season following their Super Bowl victory.  This year it wasn't Marshawn Lynch running over them, but the combination of Smith and Davis connecting in perfect harmony and simply tearing apart Jenkins and Harper in the process.  Even though I picked the Saints in more of a low scoring battle, I loved seeing the 49ers answer the call and actually put up points other than a barrage of field goals from David Akers.  While I said Colston would be the key for the Saints and have a big game, which he did, Sproles reeled in 15 catches and Graham went for over 100 yards and had two touchdowns, so their impacts were not negated in the process.  Overall, this was an exciting game that was an instant classic.

The Pats did exactly what I thought they would and some, dismantled a "good"defense in the process.  I knew Brady would be fired up, but I didn't know he would play with this intensity.  He finished the game with six touchdown passes, all essentially in the first 35 minutes of the game, and it could have been worse if he kept the pedal on the gas.  Gronkowski was uncoverable and dominant, catching three touchdown passes and continuing to be a match up nightmare for opposing defenses.  Tebow was mediocre (at best) and never could really get anything going.  Even if he played a perfect game, he still wouldn't have come within 10 points of Brady and company.  While Elway says Tebow is his starter beginning in 2012, I still feel like he has his reservations about it.  But, Elway says he'll spend a lot of time with Tebow this offseason working on his passing.  We will see how that pans out and if Tebow can truly be their guy.

Now onto Sunday's games.  The Ravens-Texans game was an ugly one and turnovers were huge.  Four Texans turnovers ultimately cost them the game, especially the boneheaded one by Jacoby Jones as he tried to pick up a bouncing punt with a defender right on him.  Not smart to say the least.  I feel like if the Texans played just a little better game, they could have won this thing.  The defense played good, getting key stops despite being put in bad positions, including the 4th and goal stand on Ray Rice in the third quarter.  The Ravens' offense did not play a great game, but they were bailed out by their defense and special teams.  I actually thought Flacco played a pretty good game despite his low completion percentage, but they are going to need a lot more from him to knock off the Pats in their building.  The Ravens are confident they can do it, but they have to show it on the field and not just talk it.

The final game of the Divisional Round left me with a huge grin on my face.  As a Bears fan, it was quite enjoyable to see the Packers get shellacked in the manner they did.  As a Packers wide receiving corps basher throughout the year, I mostly fell on dead ears as I bellyached that their receivers weren't that good and had bad hands.  This was unwarranted, angry banter on behalf of someone who saw his team finish the year with Hanie and McCown as starting quarterbacks, but I did say it because I believed it.  And finally, my words proved true on the biggest stage as the receivers couldn't catch a thing and I gloated about it.  While a bit childish and boastful, I finally got to see what I had believed was true.  Finley, Nelson, and Jennings all letting balls fly through their hands throughout the game.  While this was particularly amusing, I did manage to watch other parts of the game and see the Packers uncharacteristically fumble the ball away and the Giants receivers feast on a Packers defense that had little pass rush.  Hakeem Nicks was a beast again, hauling in seven passes for 165 yards and two touchdowns, including the hail mary to end the first half and give the Giants a 20-10 half.  The second half was a dominating effort by the Giants' defense and they roll into this Sunday's NFC Championship in San Francisco with a ton of momentum.

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