After Wild Card weekend I thought to myself one thing: aren't these supposed to be the NFL Playoffs!? I remember watching the Bengals-Texans game wondering one thing: When is this going to end? Then we got the Packer game and that is pretty much what it was, the Packer game. The following day we were treated to the Colts-Ravens and Seahawks-Redskins which were pretty solid matchups through the first half. The Ravens pretty much took the excitement away as they walked passed Indy and in the other matchup we were tortured being forced to watch a hobbling RGIII play until his knee threw in the towel. Pretty much the weekend that wasn't. Brutal.
So we arrived to Divisional weekend and the silver lining from a dull Wild Card round. We had four mouth-watering matchups to look forward to: Baltimore vs Denver, Green Bay vs San Francisco, Seattle vs Atlanta and Houston vs New England. Potential galore. So what happened? Let me breakdown my thoughts game by game.
Baltimore @ Denver
Ravens and Broncos, Ray Lewis and Peyton Manning. Two of football's all-time greats facing off against each other in Ray Lewis' last game ever. The only problem was that Ray and the Ravens never got the memo and decided what the hell let's go out there and play. Playing in freezing weather both teams found ways to score early and often as we saw the game head to the half tied at 21. Special Teams, defense and timely offense all played key roles in this one. Peyton looked like Peyton, Ray looked like Ray and Joe Flacco looked like, well a better version of Joe Flacco. After a bonehead defensive effort by the Broncos secondary the game inevitably went into overtime, as John Fox put the clamps on Peyton and decided to sit on it with time remaining and timeouts in hand. Overtime began and both teams opening drives came to a halt. Peyton then got the ball back and as everyone expected.........threw across his body into the arms of the Ravens D. Peyton will be blamed, which I understand because of the poor judgement used on his final pass. Let's not forget however that Denver had it in the bag and if not for a defensive lapse unlike ever seen before in the NFL, Peyton needs not throw the football again. A few plays later Justin Tucker did what Billy Cundiff didn't do so well to continue Ray's wild last ride.
Green Bay @ San Francisco
I was pretty jazzed for this matchup. Storied franchises renewing acquaintances, nothing better. The game began with a bang as Niners QB Colin Kaepernick (Turlock in the house!) threw a dreaded Pick-6 and they were quickly behind. Aaron Rodgers and Green Bay made it appear as though it would be another Packer game until rookie return man, Jeremy Ross, muffed a punt and turned the ball over inside his own 10. From then on Kaepernick displayed poise beyond his years as he managed to keep his team a score ahead of MVP candidate Aaron Rodgers and the Packers at the half. The second half was pretty much the Kaepernick show. Running all over and around Green Bay defenders and completing timely passes, Colin proved to be too much for a crumbling Packers defense. The game was never close in the second half. Without a defense Aaron Rodgers and his entourage of receivers were pretty much obsolete. Whether Jim Harbaugh is a genius or lady luck's child is up for debate. What isn't? The belief Niners Nation has in a second year, second string QB.
Seattle @ Atlanta
This was my favorite game of the weekend and one of the best games I have ever seen. Atlanta's offense and defense came out fired up as if playing with a chip on their shoulder for some reason (0-3 postseason record in the Ryan/Smith era). The first half was completely dominated by the Falcons as they took a 20-0 lead into the locker room at halftime. The Seahawks failed to help themselves in the first half. A lost fumble by Marshawn Lynch in Atlanta territory ended a promising drive in the first quarter. A failed 4th & short attempt in FG position negated points. The biggest mistake however came late in the second quarter as time expired. Inside the red zone and with no timeouts Russell Wilson was sacked on third down and failed to get a play off as time ran out. Turnovers, poor time judgement and a hot Falcons offense seemed to have the Seahawks doomed. After Atlanta answered a Seattle TD with one of their own it seemed all over at 27-7 as the third quarter ended. If we know anything about the Seahawks it's that they don't go away. Behind Rookie of the Year candidate Russell Wilson the dead Seahawks rose up and scored 21 straight points to take a shocking 28-27 lead with just over a minute to play. Yet another disappointment for Mike Smith and the fans of Atlanta, right? Not on Matty Ice's watch. The QB calm and collected took the Falcons into FG range. Kicker Matt Bryant missed the attempt just outside the right upright but thanks to a ridiculous 'freeze the kicker' timeout by Pete Carroll it never happened. Bryant would not miss twice and was true given a second chance. Now down 2 points Russell Wilson had one more chance but after Julio Jones intercepted a final Hail Mary attempt it was official, Matt Ryan and Mike Smith had won a playoff game. Tony Gonzalez also advanced in the playoffs for the first time in his long hall of fame career, felicidadez buey! Many what if's to dwell on if your a part of Seahawks Nation especially after only 2 points stood between you and next Sunday.
Houston @ New England
The final game of the weekend was what we expected it to be, a Patriots march into yet another AFC title game. After Matt Schaub and the Texans failed to cash in a long kick return on the opening drive, Tom and his boys played ball. Tom's usual cast of characters were making plays. Wes Welker, Aaron Hernandez, Shane Vereen, wait Shane Vereen? Yes Shane Vereen. Vereen touched the ball 12 times for 124 yards and 3 TD's, 2 of which were through the air. Brady was Brady with 300+ yards and 3 TD's blah, blah, blah. The Texans never got anything going and when they did it was thanks to one man, Arian Foster (29-159, 2 TD's). I am quite curious of what this Texans team would look like without Arian Foster, anybody else? I mean to begin with Houston is not an exciting team to watch. They are not an explosive offensive team and they play suspect defense. The only amazing thing about the Texans is that they got this far! I'm sorry but I just had to get that off of my chest. So where were we? Oh yeah, the Patriots march on after a yawner. The only dark spot for the Pats was the loss of Rob Gronkowski for the rest of the season after fracturing his forearm, again. A rematch with the Ravens awaits and the only thing I can think to say is that Joe Flacco better come ready to throwdown.
Alright I am done, thanks for putting up with me. Overall not a bad weekend at all. A couple of thrillers and a couple of yawners, that was the weekend that was.