Winners and Losers…Wild Card Weekend Edition
Each week throughout the playoffs, we’ll be recapping winners and losers from the week’s action. Let’s get right into it:
Houston Texans fans: Can’t help but feel happy for the fan base. They lost their football team in the 90s when they moved to Tennessee, welcomed an expansion team back to the city about a decade ago, then watched the team become one of the most notoriously underachieving squads in football. Their chance at a division title opened up this year thanks to a particular neck injury to another quarterback. And they seized upon it. Injuries along the way have derailed realistic chances at a Super Bowl. But their home win over the Bengals this weekend was a huge stepping stone for the franchise. The Houston Texans. Finally relevant.
Cincinnati Bengals: Yes, that was a disappointing playoff loss and debut for Andy Dalton and A.J. Green, and it leaves Marvin Lewis still winless in the post-season. But the future is bright for this team. With two first round picks in the upcoming draft, the Bengals might be competitive again in 2012. The Steelers and Ravens should get a handful from this team in the coming years.
Sean Payton: Everyone likes to say that the New Orleans head coach is fearless for his repeated decisions to go for it on fourth down. To me, he’s just maximizing the potential of his personnel. Taking risks is one thing, taking risks that makes sense is another. Ask Falcons head coach Mike Smith about that one. The Saints offense didn’t get going until the second half, their receivers were uncharacteristically shaky with a lot of drops, and they still set an NFL playoff record for total yards in a game. That’s got to be a disturbing thought for the rest of the playoff field.
Matt Flynn: Still the most sought after quarterback in free agency this off-season. No one displaced him this week. That makes him a winner.
Josh McDaniels: If you haven’t heard, McDaniels is back with the Patriots as an offensive assistant for the remainder of the playoffs, with the understanding that he will be their offensive coordinator next year when current coordinator Bill O’Brien takes the head coaching reigns at Penn State. McDaniels had a trying year in St. Louis, and now gets reunited with the Brady bunch. Funny that he will face the quarterback he drafted a few years ago in Denver, Tim Tebow, on Sunday. Not sure what it means, but that’s one more storyline to keep an eye on.
Tim Tebow: You know, ever since Tebow was put into the starting line-up, everything that he’s succeeded at has been taken with a grain of salt. There was an underlying assumption that he was doing things that didn’t make sense, that this couldn’t last, it felt more like satire than a real inspirational story. But that was a legitimate win over the top ranked defense in the league on Sunday. The Broncos didn’t win in spite of Tebow, they won because of him. You can talk about his throwing motion, you can break down the numbers, you can say it doesn’t make sense. But it might be time to consider the Tim Tebow story as legitimate.
Atlanta Falcons: On a day when they dropped a turd, it made sense that they’d end up with a deuce on the scoreboard. Still winless in the playoffs in the Matt Ryan era, and there has to be questions surrounding head coach Mike Smith.
Dick LeBeau: Another side-effect of Tebow. When he tears your defense up, you will be questioned and scruntinized because it’s never suppose to happen.
Phil Simms: Paraphrasing what I heard while he was commentating the Steelers-Broncos game: “For it to be a forward pass, it has to go forward.”
The referee doing the overtime coin toss in Denver: It seemed like he forgot his cheat sheet while explaining the new overtime rules. Thankfully, Tebow saved the officiating crew from any misinterpretation of the rules in overtime.
John Elway: Just because from now on, when they talk about “The Drive”, they will also mention “The Overtime Pass” by Tebow. The two of you are stuck together forever.
Fans: Just seven more football games left until the off-season.