Seattle Seahawks upset defending champion New Orleans Saints
Wow, that about raps it up right there. Honestly, how much more can be said? That team we saw in Seattle was not the Seahawks, that was some other team that is, well, good! They had the most points they had scored in the regular season. Marshawn Lynch made plays for the first time in years. Hasslebeck thought it was 2006 during his Super Bowl run (2005 regular season). As much credit I give the Seahawks for their out-of-no-where resolve and ability, we have to look at one aspect that gave them a boost. Drew Brees, during the regular season, struggled at times. Some people attributed this to a rogue knee injury, the existence of which was shot down by Brees himself. You know why he really struggled? No consistent running game. When Brees didnt have the running game of Pierre Thomas, well, take a look at the Browns game. Then Chris Ivory began to step up and Brees too played much better. Yesterday, Pierre Thomas and Chris Ivory were on the injured reserve list. Guess what! Drew Brees struggled. Not as much as he did against the Browns, but they have playmakers. The Seahawks are still… the Seahawks… at least a little bit. Drew Brees against any other NFC playoff team would’ve looked like Jake Delhomme with the running by the Saints yesterday. Just shows three things; Pierre Thomas was the real MVP of the Saints Super Bowl run and win last year, Drew Brees is indeed not on the same level as Tom Brady and Peyton Manning, and Reggie Bush will always be a compliment back and nothing more. Kudos Seattle, but dont expect another win until next season.
New York Jets over the Indianapolis Colts
I have little to say about this game, it went just about how I expected… except the Jets defense did a little better than I expected them too and put the Jets in position to win it. Peyton had his chance, but couldnt get that touchdown late in the game to seal it. If he had, the Colts would’ve won. However, he got the field goal instead. Sanchez struggled, all game, as expected. He can get that field goal attempt though, and Nick Folk hit it from 32 out as time expired to give the Jets a win. They move on to face a rested New England Patriots team who looked dominant as the season wound down… especially in their 45-3 victory over the Jets. Mark Sanchez needs to play MUCH better in order to beat the Patriots. LaDanian might not give him that support again this week.
Baltimore Ravens over Kansas City Chiefs
Well, this isn’t what I predicted, but it is not a surprise. The Ravens have been road warriors in the post-season in recent history. However, I do not believe that is the story here. The story is the Chiefs… or better yet… the young Chiefs. Matt Cassel did not look ready for a post-season bout. He was flustered and he let Ray Lewis’ defense get under his skin. Young star wide out Dwayne Bowe didn’t help his struggling QB. Bowe just couldn’t get open to save his life, and with Baltimore’s somewhat suspect cornerbacks, I have to assume Bowe just dropped the ball on this one (not a pun, he didn’t see a ball all game). Then we have rookie Devin McCluster and his timely fumble. The Chiefs were still in the game at this point, but when Ray Lewis punched the ball out of McCluster’s hands to give the Ravens offense a very short field, the Chiefs couldn’t recover. Don’t fret Chiefs fans, this wasn’t your year anyways. It was still a highly successful season in Kansas City, and they are young and built to compete. We will see Kansas City again next post-season. As for the Ravens, Joe Flacco cant struggle to start the game again next week against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Green Bay Packers win over Philadelphia Eagles
Well, this is the one I got right. The two BIG factors attributed to this Packer win is David Akers’ two missed field goals and James Starks’ day on the ground (23 carries, 123 yards, 5.3 ypc). Dom Capers’ defense really did the job I expected holding down a Vick lead offense to just 16 points. Vick was blitzed 13 times and sacked thrice while rushing for 33 yards on 8 attempts (4.1 ypc). Clay Matthews consistently got to Vick forcing him to get rid of the ball quickly, limiting the Eagles big play opportunities. Matthews was so effective, the Eagles felt compelled to bench starting tackle Winston Justice for King Dunlap. Side note: If you talk to an Eagles fan, they will tell you that Dunlap is the better tackle to begin with, to which I agree. The Eagles had a very slow start on offense, going three and out on their first two possessions. However, Green Bay started quickly, scoring 14 points in the first half to the Eagles 3. It could’ve been 21-3 if not for a horrendous drop on a perfect pass to James Jones who had beat Asante Samuel and the rest of the Eagles secondary. The second half was a completely different story, almost like a flip flop. Aaron Rodgers began the 3rd quarter with a fumble that let the Eagles back into this contest. Vick took advantage with the turnover for a touchdown pass to Jason Avant, making the score 14-10. Aaron Rodgers didn’t look like a QB who just coughed up the ball on the next drive, methodically moving his offense down the field for a touchdown screen play to Brandon Jackson. That would end Green Bay’s day scoring mid way through the 3rd quarter. Vick was able to start the makings of a comeback victory and he looked like a warrior. Despite all the hits throughout the game Vick was standing tall and delivering strikes all day. His clutch rushing TD from inches away on 4th down is what kept the Eagles fighting for the win. Andy Reid immediately decided to go for the 2pt conversion to make it a 3 point game instead of a 4 point game. Absolutely the right call, since even with a 5 point deficit if the attempt failed they would still need a touchdown on their next possession. Vick, the warrior he was, had Celek on a perfect pass to complete the 2pt conversion. Unfortunately, he stepped out of bounds at the back of the endzone and came back in to be the first to touch the ball, a penalty in the NFL. Vick had his team on the precipice, but Celek’s mistake was costly. Less costly that it seemed, as the ref indicated that it was a loss of a try. Then Fox went to commercial, and Eagles fans at home were left to face-palm and sit dismayed on their couches. The fans at the Stadium though saw a glimmer of hope as the refs began to huddle. Turns out, since Celek reestablished his position on the field, it was not a loss of down play (or in this case loss of try). Merely, it was a 10 yard penalty, retry the 2pt conversion. Eagles fans had hope again, but was the second chance their death sentence? They try again with Vick in shotgun. Dom Capers brought the blitz and Vick couldn’t get a semblance of a pass off before get hit, hard. So hard, he limped profoundly off the field as the try failed. The Packers got the ball back, and went into time killing mode. Starks was able to break off a 12 yard run, but the Packers offense failed to do anything else with Rodgers taking a sack to end the drive and force a punt. The Eagles had held and they were back in the game. Desean Jackson trotted out onto the field and the atmosphere suddenly changed. People around the nation had flashbacks to week 15 at the Meadowlands when Jackson took back a Matt Dodge punt for a game winning TD. It felt like he could do it again, and it looked good as he reversed the field too. Yellow flags flew quickly though, as Jackson went down. Holding penalty on the Eagles, and it started looking bad. Then out trotted Vick, and hope was again restored. Reports were that the Eagles coaches tried taking Vick’s helmet away, preventing him from coming back into the game. He wouldn’t have that, and came back onto the field; a warrior. However, the warrior he had been all game was not the one on that last Philly possession. Vick looked off, throwing incompletions that could’ve been completed. Bar one big play to Desean Jackson for 28 yards, he overthrew Celek a great deal leading him into a big hit, and he overthrew LeSean McCoy on an easy dump off pass. To ice the game, Vick went to what worked for the Eagles all year, the big play. He went for the deep pass to the edge of the endzone, but he didnt throw it to the sideline, which is quarterbacking 101. Instead, he threw it inside, allowing Tramon Williams (pro bowl snub with 6 regular season picks) to clinch the victory for the Packers with an interception. With one Aaron Rodgers kneel, the Packers stamped their tickets to Atlanta to face the first seeded Falcons while the Vick redemption season ends on the worst note possible short of a serious injury. It looked good Eagles fans, it really did. The Eagles were the sexy pick going into the game. I’m not one that fancies the sexy pick’s though. I believe the old school view holds true, football starts with the trenches. The Packers won that battle with 3 sacks on Vick (hobbling him) and protecting Rodgers well on the other side of the ball. Next step for the Eagles, resign Michael Vick because he is their future, trade Kolb for a 2nd round pick, and draft defense. The Packers need to watch the game tape from this week and figure out why Starks was able to run for over 5 yards a carry. They need to bring that run game to Atlanta because it makes them so much more dangerous.