What’s that about a sixth seed? The Packers blew out the first seed of the NFL playoffs, the Atlanta Falcons, yesterday with 48-21 win. Blow. Out. Packers dominated to the point where the announcers at the end of the game started talked about other teams and games. You know it’s bad when they do that.
Packers runningback James Starks fumbled on the first play of the game and the Falcons went on to capitalize with a touchdown. But that was the only time in the game the Falcons appeared to dominate. The rest of the day all went Green Bay’s way. Even when Atlanta had opportunities to capitalize, they didn’t take them. Perfectly thrown passes were dropped, defensive holes were huge, and it added up to a team who looked very different than they did during the regular season.
After two major defensive pass interference penalties against the Packers, it looked like the Falcons were coming back at the end of the first half to make it a game. But Tremon Williams intercepted Matt Ryan and ran it back 70 yards for a touchdown.
At the start of the fourth quarter, the Falcons tried an on-side kick, but it failed to go the required ten yards. The play really summed up the entire game, because the ball never bounced their way and there was absolutely no interior pressure on Rodgers.
The Packers never even punted the entire game. They also set a record for number of points scored in a single playoff game.
Packers next take on either Chicago or Seattle, once again playing on the road. No matter, because did you hear the crowd noise during the Atlanta game? Packer fans travel well, and there will likely be even more fans at the NFC Championship game next week.
Maybe it’s because I lived in Chicago too long. I’ve been around Cubs fans and Bear fans enough to know they hedge their hearts with a lot of “they’ll find a way to lose” thoughts. Maybe it’s so they won’t be so disappointed at the end result – but they usually are just that – disappointed. This weekend will be no different.
Pittsburgh Bests Baltimore
Maybe I’m hedging my heart here, I’m sure Pittsburgh will find a way to … wait a minute, I don’t live in Chicago anymore! Pittsburgh will win this slugfest. I love these games. In the last three years, they’ve met eight times (Steelers on top 5-2). The average margin of victory in these contests? 3.5 points.
For me to say whoever can turn over the ball less wins, well – that’s pretty simple. Talk is that Joe Flacco has more freedoms in this year’s offense. For the Ravens, they’ll need him to be fantastic to get his first win against a Big Ben-led Steelers team.
And that, folks, is how a 7-9 Seattle Seahawks team absolutely shocks the defending Super Bowl champions: Four touchdown passes from a celebrating Matt Hasselbeck and a 67-yard touchdown run from one of the more enjoyable players in football, Marshawn Lynch. The phrase “beast mode” has always been associated with Lynch, or “beef mode,” if you will — because of his jeweled fronts –and after his eye-popping, game-sealing touchdown, which included a devastating stiff arm that bowled Tracy Porter over so much, he was rendered useless, Lynch was clearly in complete beast, or beef mode (depending on your preference).
But this weekend, our attention is on the four games involving other potential dancers. And there may be some surprises.
Seattle Will Advance
The regular season is over. Everyone is 0-0. That said, I will ignore the Seahawks losing record during the regular season and give them a win during the postseason tourney, though just one.
The Saints are depleted by injuries and travel to a noisy Northwest. While I have the utmost respect for Drew Brees, I don’t think he can do this alone. It’ll be an early exit for New Orleans (who have never won a road playoff game), and the Seahawks will exit the playoffs next week — unless they play the 49ers, who still may have a shot.
Jets Built for Postseason
The Jets were built for January. And even though they travel, like the Saints – the Colts are missing too many weapons. I do think that Manning can win this game almost single-handed, but he won’t
Even with Joseph Addai back in the lineup, the Colts will be one-and-done. And we’ll be able to hear Rex Ryan sound bytes for at least one more week.
Quarterbacks throw. Receivers catch. This basic principle is the key to a good performance on the football field. Unfortunately for the St Louis Rams, when the time came to make a play against the Seattle Seahawks in a game where the winner goes to the playoffs, Danario Alexander did not perform his most basic of tasks: catching the football. Did Alexander’s drop cost the Rams the game, and a chance to make the NFL Playoffs? Well, it sure as hell didn’t help their cause, especially when you consider the 16-6 final score.
I’m not sure what Oakland Raiders safety Hiram Eugene was trying to do there, but apparently, tackling Willis McGahee wasn’t part of the plan. At least not in a manner most defensive players use. Maybe Eugene wanted to be stiff armed in such a dominating fashion so the Raiders wouldn’t ask him to come back next season.
See? There is a method to the madness of poor defensive tackle attempts. You just have to look a little closer.
For their efforts, well McGahee’s, anyway, the Baltimore Ravens are playoff-bound. Their opening game sees them travel to New England to play the Patriots on Sunday. McGahee finished his playoff-saving day with 167 yards, while scoring all three of the Ravens’ touchdowns.
So which is the better exclamation point? The Chris Clemons stiff-arm or the absolute burial of Tarvaris Jackson? Both helped the Philadelphia defense score a touchdown, although, the points were much more of a necessity against Minnesota than they were against Dallas. It’s hard to pick a winner because both plays are indeed memorable, but since a playoff win is more valuable than a regular season win — even if said regular season win catapulted your team to the playoffs — I think I’m picking the Jackson burial as being the most important out of the two.