The Super Bowl is around the corner...and this weekend we find out who will be playing in the game. You've read all the picks (if you haven't here are Dan's and here are Josh's) and you've even read a what if scenario about the Super Bowl (Once again, if you haven't here it is). Now sit back, relax and watch the game with us.
The Super Bowl, besides being the biggest game of the year, is known for it's parties. But Championship week? Seems it gets skipped for the big parties...and that's where this blog comes in. Close your eyes for a second, and relax. All your cares are floating away...deeper and deeper...the fact that you're sitting alone in front of the TV doesn't matter anymore...deeper and deeper...the lack of great nachos, wings, and chili fades away....deeper and deeper...
When I snap my fingers you'll be at a Championship Weekend party hosted by Josh and Dan.
Josh: Hey! Glad you could make it! Yeah, it's a cold one out there.
Dan: Let me take that for you, beer is in the fridge, and the ladies are hard at work on some goodies in the kitchen.
Josh: Pick a spot on the couch over there, but don't take the ones with the inflatable women in them...they're seat savers.
Dan: Yeah, the game is about to start...make yourself comfortable.
The blog here will be updated occasionally to share out clear thoughts, and hammer home big points. But the comments section will be where the bulk of this event happens.
So find a seat on and couch and get ready for kickoff!!
Patriots - Chargers
---------30 Minutes to Kickoff----------------------------------
River is starting…LT is playing…Gates is playing…
The question is, how healthy are they?
Let me level with everyone for a second…without a team in these games…it’s always odd going in. What do you root for? This first game is a perfect example…
On the one hand, I would love to see History. Being able to say “I saw that undefeated 2007 Pats team, they were amazing. Best I ever saw…” That’s pretty cool. And history, even if it’s not a team you love, is always cool to see.
On the other hand, there is always the urge to root for the underdog. The upset is always exciting. And this would be a huge upset…on the level of Jets-Colts in Super Bowl 3. I mean how amazing would it be to see that level of upset?
In the end though? I really don’t like this Chargers team at all…Rivers just irritates me…Merriman is an amazing talent, but a irritating showboat…and don’t think I need to go into more detail on Norv Turner. So even though the upset would be amazing, I’ll be pulling for the Pats.
Besides those that have a team in the game…who are you rooting for, and why?
-----------------8 minutes left in 1st Qtr-------------------------
How important is the opening drive?
In my mind, the first drive by a road team is one of the most important in the game. It sets the tone for the road team, gives the home fans that moment of doubt, and gets the team playing with the lead.
But is it really the first drive, or the first points?
It’s both. The team the scores first always has the upper hand. But when you can start the game off with a scoring drive…it can demoralize to the other team. This Pats team scores on that first drive more often than not this season, and it has been huge to their success.
-----------------End of 1st Qtr-------------------------
As the 1st Quarter comes to a close…
The Chargers got what they wanted…they Held the Pats in check…got a turnover and some points. But they are going to regret not getting a touchdown on their drive.
The Chargers are playing it a little too conservative for me. I know the weather is a factor, but if you’re going to beat this Pats team, you have to take the game to them. They are doing it for the most part on Defense so far, but their Offense has been very Vanilla.
After that Turnover, I would of liked to see them shoot for the TD right away. Take a couple shots. Instead they just plodded for 10 yards and a FG.
The Pats are starting to get a rhythm now, and that’s not good for the Chargers. When you have a team like this struggling, no matter how short of a time…you have to take advantage. And so far the Chargers haven’t done that.
You give the Pats enough chances, and they will burn you.
-----------------9 minutes left in 2nd Qtr------------------------
HUGE stop by the Pats. Remember…touchdowns are needed in the playoffs. The Chargers have gotten in to the red zone twice, and twice had to settle for FGs. That’s not going to get it done against these Pats. They are too Madden for this…
Used this metaphor in my picks blog, but let me bring it back up…
When you play Madden vs a friend that is equally matched…you end up trading scores…back and forth…until…someone has to kick…and then the other person has the upper hand. Why? Because 7 is more than 3. That’s how this Pats team beat you down…they score touchdowns, and when you have to settle for the FG it’s just like a defensive stop.
The Chargers Defense is going to have to come up huge to get the Chargers back on track in this one.
-----------------4 minutes left in 2nd Qtr------------------------
Touchdowns my friend, that’s why wins playoff games. You can eat all the clock you want, you can keep the Pats offense off the field…but if you don’t score touchdowns, you’re just delaying the inevitable.
Right now though, I’m confused why LDT is on the sideline. He’s STANDING on the sidelines. Just like last week, YOU LOSE THIS GAME, YOU GO HOME…why isn’t the heart and soul of your team in the game?
Norv, are you saving him? Or is it just the fact that Turner is playing better? Whatever the reason, if you lose this game and LDT spends most of it on the sidelines…hello second guessing…
At the Half….
Biggest problem for the Chargers….they keep getting deep into Pats territory, but have come away with only FGs. Not good.
Biggest problem for the Patriots…they have 2 touchdown drives, but they also have several 3rd and outs…not good. The offense seems to be missing a beat slightly.
Good news for the Chargers…the DBs have come to play. They have been holding the Pats WRs down pretty well…save for Welker getting the ball underneath. And the offense has been able sustain drives against the Pats D.
Good news for the Pats…the Chargers have driven on them and all they have is 3 FGs. Faulk seems to be open on every play, and Brady has found him. The Defense is getting the ball back to the offense.
Players that stepped up big so far…
Michael Turner and Darren Sproles – These guys are playing great…makes it less painful to see LDT on the sideslines.
Quetin Jammer – He’s playing tough D against Welker and the rest of the WRs for the Pats.
Asante Sammuel – Playing great football and great picks…huge.
Kevin Faulk – Keep finding this guy…just a great player, gets the job done.
Players that are going to have some regrets…
LDT – Why are you on the sideline?
Randy Moss – Had one good run…but that’s it…where are you man?
What to expect in the 2nd half…
Pats open the half with the ball…they will score.
If the Chargers continue to get FGs instead of Touchdowns, they will not win this game. If I had to put my life on this game right now, with out blinking, I would say the Pats have this game. They have gotten 7 everytime they are in the red zone…and that’s huge. If you can’t get a touchdown, you can’t win…sorry.
-----------------Start of the 4th Qtr------------------------
There are 2 things that decide playoff games…the 2 Ts…
Touchdowns and Turnovers.
Right now, the Pats have the Touchdown edge…
But the Chargers are getting the key Turnovers.
But if you’re going to beat Goliath, you’re going to have to start making something out of these turnovers. Brady won’t stay “down” for long…and the Pats offense was looking really good on that last drive…but Cromartie reached up and plucked a gift out of the sky.
But then the Chargers Offense can’t do anything with the ball…and now you give it right back to Brady. You have to make the most of your chances…and so far the Chargers don’t seem to have any sense of urgency. It’s the Championship game…you’ve gotta play every moment like it’s your last.
Here’s where things really get decided…the 4th quarter.
Can the Chargers get more than just FGs?
Can the Pats come up big in the 4th like they have all year long?
Maroney seems to be getting on track…watch out for time killing drives from the Pats.
If Rivers has to throw to win the game, I don’t like the Chargers chances.
To win this one, it looks like the Chargers need a big play from Mr. Cromartie…pick…and take it to the house.
-----------------9 minutes left in 4th Qtr------------------------
There are 9 minutes left in the game. You’re down by 2 scores already. You haven’t been able to score a touchdown so far this game…and you drive to the opposition’s 36…
And you don’t go for it on 4th? I know it’s 4th and 10…but wouldn’t it have been better to get about 5 yards on 3rd down…instead of going for all 10? And then a 4th and 5 is totally doable. You’ve basically given this game to the Pats.
-----------------Final: Patriots 21 Chargers 12-----------------
Player of the Game
Kevin Faulk and Lawrence Maroney
Everytime the Pats needed a big play…there was Faulk. It seems the Chargers didn’t even know he was out on the field. Maybe they thought it was just Michael Turner? But he came up big every time they needed him.
And when the Pats needed to churn clock, Maroney kept getting yards…churning the legs…taking time off the clock and moving the ball. Going into the playoffs, everyone said the one weakness of this Pats team was their inability to run…well, guess what? Maroney is healthy, and they have a real running game.
Take your pick…any of the missed opportunities in the Red Zone by the Chargers. Once again…if you haven’t picked it up in this blog…you need touchdowns in the Playoffs. And the Chargers could only get FGs.
Big Defensive play for the Pats
That first INT of Rivers was huge. It got the Pats the ball back, and got the team clicking.
The Chargers played tough…but they played with no urgency, and no killer attitude. They had their chances…turnovers and red zone trips…and they seemed to just waltz through them like it was any other day. No one got fired up, no one stepped up and put the team on their shoulders….it just seemed like they didn’t care.
I’m not saying they don’t care, just didn’t see that urgency on their faces at all. With every missed opportunity, they just seemed to move onto the next play. Now look at Brady…after the Pats missed a chance, he got fired up. Talked to his team…and went back out and made the next play.
The Chargers just seemed like they weren’t really in this game. They didn’t play with the desire and attitude you would expect out of an AFC championship participant. You lose, and you go home…and they never seemed to get that. They seemed to be saying “don’t worry, we’ll get our chance again”…
But you never know what will happen…talk to Dan Marino…he thought he would be back again…and he never got back. When you get there, you have to play to win…you have to leave it all out on the field. You have to fly around the field…make huge plays…be willing to give your all to get that extra yard. There is no tomorrow…you don’t have a chance beyond the 4 quarters of this game…
Congrats to the Pats…they did make the plays and they did play like there was no tomorrow. And that’s why they won.
-----------------Packers vs Giants------------------------
Some quick thoughts before kick off…
The weather favors the Pack…along with the home crowd….this exactly why you want that home field advantage in Lambeau.
In this cold, I always think the Offensive line has the advantage over the D line. The O-line knows where the play is going, and they get to deliver the first blow.
The Giants have Ross and Madison back this week, but how healthy are they? They need to make sure tackles on those quick hits from the Pack.
Eli needs to get off to a big start…get himself into a rhythm if the Giants are to win this one.
Bradshaw or Jacobs is going to have to churn out yards for the Giants. If the Giants can’t get play action going, they will be in trouble against these aggressive, playmaking Corners for the Packers.
Watch the Packers D, if they are getting pressure with the front 4 and can leave their LBs back to take care of the run and coverage…it’s going to be a long day for the Giants.
The Giants are going to get pressure on Favre, with their D-line it’s a given…but the key is, are the WRs open on the quick Slants and hot routes. And is Ryan Grant able to get the running game going to take pressure off of Favre?
Once again, look for the Ts….Touchdowns and Turnovers…who gets them and who doesn’t.
-----------------End of 1st Qtr-----------------------
In the T department…
None. No turnovers and no touchdowns.
The Giants Offense looks good…able to move the ball at will…but that stall out in the red zone could come back to haunt them.
The Pack started out good…but then have slowed down. The Giants are getting good pressure on Favre, and so far the Pack haven’t responded. And the running game hasn’t really picked up.
Don’t give Favre too many chances though…the Giants have the upper hand right now in this game…they need to stomp on the Packers throat. If they show mercy, Favre will be all to happy to turn the tables later in this game.
-----------------10 minutes left in 2nd Qtr-----------------------
If the Chargers-Pats game wasn’t proof enough for why you need TDs in the playoffs…
The Giants play a GREAT first half, the defense gets after the Pack and shuts them down. The Offense moves at will….
But in 2 trips into the red zone, they come away with FGs.
And then…the Giants blow a coverage assignment, and Favre hooks up with Donlad Driver for a 91 yard Td…and the lead. That’s why you need touchdowns.
Great run by Driver…beat his man off the line, and then stayed up and in bounds the whole run. That’s what this team needed was a big play. Get the crowd back into it, and give the Defense a little boost.
Now the Giants need to do something to get this game back in their favor…
Good news for the Giants…they are moving the ball really well…and their Defense has totally shut down the running game of the Packers.
Good news for the Packers…they have held the Giants offense in the red-zone…and they have gotten the big play.
Players that have stepped up…
Eli and Plax
Eli has played a great game so far…he is taking what the Pack give him, and making the most of it. He hasn’t turned the ball over, and has moved the offense. Plax has beaten Al Harris every which way, and is always open.
That play on the screen was HUGE…it stop a sure first down and possible touchdown…in this type of game, those are the plays that you need.
The balance on that 91 yard TD was just awesome…and is the difference in this game so far.
Yeah, it’s a broken record praising this guy…but he makes the difference for his team. And making the throws that he is in these conditions are huge…even if he kills his receivers fingers.
What the Giants need to do…
Get in the damn end zone. It’s a broken record, TOUCHDOWNS are what win in the playoffs. If you continue to settle for FGs you’ll die the slow death that the Chargers did.
What the Packers need to do…
Get the running game going. With the lead in a game like this, you need to kill some clock…keep using the pass right now, but as soon as you see the Giants back off…start bashing them with the run.
What to expect in the second half…
The Pack seem to be getting some momentum and confidence…that stop of the Giants to end the half was huge. And Favre looks good out there.
Look for the Packers to move down the field and get another score early. Then watch the Packers D-line pin their ears back and get after Eli. If you get pressure on Eli, that’s when he starts to look…well….like Eli. And for god sake, double Burress.
Look for the Pack to stay on top of a close one….this one isn’t going to let up until the end…get ready for a fun 2nd half!
-----------------7 minutes left in the 3rd Qtr-----------------------
In the heat of a game…I understand jawing with your opponent and getting a little overzealous with actions and words. Trust me, I’ve played plenty of organized sports, I know when the heat of a close game builds up, every thing the other team says, can be taken the wrong way, and some times you go a little far because of the moment.
But what I don’t get is taunting or being cocky to the fans. They aren’t your opponent, they are just there to see their team play and cheer them on. You make more money playing a game then they will ever make doing real work…and yet you feel the need to be a total arse to them after scoring a touchdown or making a big play. In the end, you’re the one that looks like a jerk.
When you make a big play, you know what the most demoralizing thing you can do is? Act like it’s no big deal. You score a big touchdown in the NFC championship game…walk to the ref, hand him the ball, and walk over to the bench. What that says to the other team? I’ll be back, and you can’t rattle me.
Taunting the fans is not kosher with the football Gods…they do not like karma killers like that…it always comes back to get you. Just don’t do it…act like you’ve been there.
-----------------Start of 4th Qtr-----------------------
The Giants are doing what they didn’t do in the first half…put the ball in the end zone. That is the big difference in the 3rd Quarter.
The Packers need to answer the challenge that the Giants have put to them…they need to keep pace with the touchdowns. Don’t need to go for it all on one play though…just settle down Brett, and take what is there…
And still there hasn’t been a turnover in this game. As we enter the 4ht quarter…who does get the turnover will win the game…yes, it’s a lame prediction, but it’s true.
The Giants seem to have some kind of 2nd half magic…they just know how to play in the 2nd half.
-----------------Giants 23 Packers 20-----------------------
Wow…first let me eat a large plate of crow for doubting the Giants all season long. They have come to play in the playoffs, and have burned an amazing path through the playoffs.
Now, the only person Favre has to blame is himself. The game was right there for him to win…it was everything except gift wrapped…and he played like he was a rookie in the 2nd half. Just a horrible game.
A lot of credit for that miserable performance goes to the Giants Defense. They played great all day long, and made the Packers work for everything they got.
Eli played great, coming on strong in the 2nd half like he has all season. He’s looking better and better…hmmmm….Tiki retires, and suddenly this team has heart and makes the Super Bowl…hmmmm…..
Finally, Mr. Tynes…you played the Ryan Grant role…from Goat to Hero in the matter of minutes. Gutsy kick to win the game…didn’t think you had it in you.
So there we are, Pats-Giants…wow…
Thanks to all that participated in this Live blog, it was a lot of fun. Look for more blogs from me…and maybe Dan this week…