Ravens @ Steelers (24-31)
This game was all about momentum and the tale of two halves. Capitalizing on two turnovers, the Ravens opened up at 21-7 half time lead, along with all the momentum. However, during Baltimore’s first drive of the second half Ray Rice fumbled at the Ravens 23 yard line and two possessions later Joe Flacco threw a ill-timed horrible pass sideline pass to Todd Heap for an interception.
Both turnovers led to Steeler touchdowns and the momentum arrow swung permanently in Pittsburgh’s favor. The mildly effective first half Baltimore offense then went dormant as Pittsburgh locked down the run and the Flacco couldn’t find any receivers down field.
Even though the Ravens were completely on their heals in the second half, they still had a chance with less than two minutes in the game to drive and score a touchdown to send the game into overtime. In what could only be a case of karma, TJ Houshmandzadeh (who has run his mouth all season about not having more passes thrown to him) dropped a fourth down pass which would have kept Baltimore’s season alive.
Congratulations TJ…you just made the fail.blog.
Packers @ Falcons (48-21)
Heading into Saturday’s divisional playoff game against Green Bay, Atlanta was the winner of 9 of their last 10 games and possessed the best record in the NFC at 13-3.
However, as we correctly identified, the Falcons were a team that had peaked too early in the season and their final three wins against inferior teams disguised Atlanta’s true identity. The Falcons were exposed as team which was out of sync offensively and had lost the ability to run the ball efficiently as seen earlier in the season.
Green Bay’s running back James Stark was brought back to reality averaging only 2.64 yards per carry, but red-hot Aaron Rodgers carried the Packers offensively by completing 31 of 36 passes for 366 yards and 3 touchdowns. Cornerback Tramon Williams’ pick six of Matt Ryan at the end of the first half broke the backs of the Falcons and the Packers never looked back. Next up for Green Bay…Da Bears.
Seahawks @ Bears (24-35)
Up until the 4th quarter the Bears played a near perfect game on both offense and defense. Aside from his 53.6% completion percentage, Bears quarterback Jay Cutler excelled in his first playoff start throwing for three touchdowns and rushing for another two. Even when Cutler did make poor decisions throwing the ball, Seattle’s defense couldn’t come up with the interception.
Somewhat surprisingly, Matt Hasselbeck had another solid performance. Seattle’s early offensive game plan of three-step drops kept Chicago’s pass rush from getting to the veteran quarterback. However, the Bears cornerback’s physicality caused problems all day along for Seahawk receivers and resulted in too many dropped passes.
This game was never really in question after the first half, but Chicago’s victory celebration in the 4th quarter allowed Seattle to creep back into the game and cover the over. Thank you very much.
Jets @ Patriots (28-21)
Ladainian Tomlinson had nowhere near a career day against his nemesis, but he did receive his Christmas wish: knocking the Patriots out of the playoffs. Mark Sanchez efficiently and smartly led the Jets offense to 28 points. For the second straight week, his receivers largely caught the passes thrown to them and came up with decisive big plays like Santonio Holmes’ endzone catch. More importantly though, the Jets defense was able to contain the Patriots offense and hold them to 21 points. As we wrote in our game preview, this was the key to New York defense winning their side of the match-up.
Simply put, the Jets defeated the Patriots because they played a complete game on both sides of the ball. Nonetheless you have to wonder about two aspects of this game from New England.
First, only down 7-3 towards the end of the first half, why did Belichick risk a fake punt attempt from the Patriots 37 yard line? The fake’s failure gave the Jets tremendous field position and resulted in another seven points on the board for New York.
Second, New England showed poor time management skills in the 4th quarter. Down 21-11 early in the quarter the Patriots offense showed no urgency moving the ball down the field on a drive that lasted almost eight minutes and produced no points. On the following possession, again New England failed to play with the utmost urgency by not spiking the ball after first down completions. The 15-20 seconds lost meant the difference kicking a field goal prior to the two-minute warning.
Overall we congratulate Rex Ryan for winning the 5th Round of Footie vs. Hoodie. Additionally, we would also like to thank Tom Brady for not giving up and scoring one last-minute touchdown to cover the over/under.
Coming up tomorrow…The ultimate waffle recipe: Bacon, alcohol and possibly some syrup.