Matt Ryan is forced to sit out with a shoulder injury. That means this man will be making his first trip to the Pro Bowl. Russell Wilson.
Seahawks at Falcons: In Search Of…
What has changed about this Falcons team since two years ago, when they had a similarly impressive regular season and failed to keep up with Rodgers’ Packers in the post-season?
Or what has changed since last season, when the Falcons went on the road to play the Giants in the first round and fittingly, dropped a deuce (the Falcons score a safety only in the game) and were embarrassed in consecutive post-seasons.
Sunday’s game is the answer, or at least the start of the answer. For the Falcons to even think about Super Bowls and championship rings, they need to win a playoff game first.
We’ve heard this offense advertised as the best in the league before, everything sounds a bit familiar. The Falcons remind me of Andy Reid-Donovan McNabb’s Eagles, in that it took Philadelphia so many years to get out of the NFC after so many trips to the Conference Finals.
At some point, when you put yourself in a position to host playoff games against inferior opponents, it has to tip the other way, right?
But how inferior are the Seahawks? They showed me a lot last week with their win at Washington, maybe we should stop referring to Russell Wilson as a rookie and just enjoy the ride, and perhaps this defense is an elite unit.
But really, this game comes down to Atlanta. Can we say this is the most important game in franchise history? If they come up short this weekend, it’s going to be an especially long off-season for the Falcons. It would also be their third such off-season in a row.
I think they get over the hump this week.
Falcons win 34-14.
What does everybody think?
Winners and Losers: Wild Card Round edition
So, that wasn’t the most memorable weekend of football, was it? Still, we’ve got several interesting match-ups set up for next week, and who will ever forget Ray Lewis’s final pre-game dance in Baltimore?
Onto the winners and losers of the wild card round:
The Green Bay Packers as contenders: The defense figured out a way to bottle up Adrian Peterson in their third game against the superhuman running back in the last six week and Aaron Rodgers was efficient in spreading the ball around (completions to 10 different receivers). Experience counts in the playoffs, and even though it was against an inferior opponent, the Packers reminded everyone why even with an uneven regular season, they’re still going to be a tough out in these playoffs. I can’t wait for Green Bay-San Francisco next week.
Peyton Manning and Tom Brady: Anything can happen in the playoffs, but I imagine the two quarterbacks were texting each other throughout the weekend marveling at the level of competition that the AFC teams displayed. We’re still on track for an AFC Championship Game showdown between these two in Denver.
Arian Foster: Most rushing yards by a running back in his first three career playoff games in NFL history. By the way: undrafted.
Christian Ponder: Nothing like a bad performance from your back-up QB to enhance your own value by default. Although I think the Vikings would be wise to explore the free agent and trade market for a quarterback this off-season.
Russell Wilson, Marshawn Lynch, the Seahawks in general: The numbers weren’t spectacular for Wilson, and there was no 50 point performance from the offense this time around. But down 14-0 on the road in the first quarter, all the questions came back: were these Seahawks just a great team at home? Is this team capable of playing from behind? Wilson answered that with two key drives in the first half to get the game back to a manageable 14-10 deficit. Also, even though he had a key fumble, Lynch was spectacular on the day (137 yards, and the go-ahead touchdown in the fourth quarter). The Seahawks defense also tightened up after the early deficit. That was an impressive win, by Seattle. They struggled early in a hostile environment, made mistakes throughout, and still walked out with a double digit win. It’s the type of win that will have people debating all week long whether they might just be able to go into Atlanta and give themselves a great chance at the upset.
Ray Lewis: A great final home game send-off for the future Hall-Of-Famer. Oh, and he got a shoutout from Kobe Bryant’s brand new Twitter account.
The Cincinnati Bengals franchise playoff drought: Saddest stat I read all week was that the Bengals had not won a playoff game since 1990, and since that time, every team in the league has won a post-season game (Browns? Yes. Jaguars? Yes, shouts to Mark Brunell, Jimmy Smith and Keenan McCardell. And the list goes on). Marvin Lewis is now winless in four playoff games and, Andy Dalton, what exactly is his ceiling? Joe Flacco? Matt Schaub? I suppose that’s not entirely bad, since both those guys are still playing next week.
Joe Webb: If you follow the Vikings, or just football in general, you’ve heard whispers about Joe Webb and his freakish athletic ability, pretty best summed up by this video of him jumping over 7 dummies at the NFL combine. But on Sunday, pressed into action, he showed that there’s still a lot to go for him to be a competent quarterback.
The end of great regular season narratives: Time to tuck away #CHUCKSTRONG, and wonderful seasons from Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III and Adrian Peterson. But they’ll be remembered.
Football fans with Jets fatigue: Just when we thoughts Jets drama was behind us for at least a few weeks, we had to read all about Rex Ryan’s curious tattoo this week. The Jets aren’t just insufferable, they’re inescapable.
The Redskins: So, Washington fans, this is precisely why the Nationals took so much precaution with Stephen Strasburg by leaving him off the post-season roster, right? It was painful seeing Robert Griffin III out there on one leg, I mean, your knee isn’t suppose to bend this way, is it? With much chatter about whether Dr. James Andrews actually allowed Griffin to return to a game in December when he suffered his initial knee injury, coach Shanahan went ahead and risked further damage to his franchise, the investment that made the Redskins a topic of conversation again in football this year. We’re crossing sports for comparisons, but this reminds me of when the Blazers allowed Brandon Roy to return, and while that alone might not have cause the injuries that eventually forced him to retire (he’s since returned, but is on the injured list again), it does show what the long-term repercussions are when you don’t safeguard your best assets. Let’s just hope that we’ll see the same RG3 again next year. Also, Dan Snyder, let’s improve the field conditions just a little bit can we?
Who were your winners and losers?
Seahawks at Redskins: Fresh Faces
Best game on the board this week, right? I suppose by the time we get to this one on Sunday afternoon, we’ll know if they have to live up to the crazy expectations of the match-ups preceding them.
In a first round where both Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III are playing, who knew that the most important rookies might just turn out to be Russell Wilson and Alfred Morris.
And does Matt Flynn text Alex Smith, or is it the other way around. Either way, those exchanges must be a downer.
For Washington, they punched a ticket to the post-season with a victory over the Cowboys last week. Or to put it more aptly, Morris did the punching with over 200 yards and three touchdowns. Griffin hasn’t looked his usual dynamic self since coming back from injury, and it does take a bit away from their offense, but if his rookie mate in the back field can put up the same performance against a stout Seattle defense, it may not matter.
As for the Seahawks. They come into the playoffs with a lot of acclaim and buzz. That tends to happen when you start beating teams by scores of 58-0 (granted, it was Arizona), 50-17 (in Toronto against Buffalo, not exactly a frightening proposition) and 42-13 (at home against San Francisco, who were coming off a short week and a tough battle against New England; actually, never mind, this one was impressive, not going to sell them short).
I will say this: if you told me the Seahawks had a bye and would need to win two playoff games at home to make the Super Bowl, I’m not sure if I’d pick anyone else in the NFC. But on the road? Consider me still a skeptic.
This team’s been a wonderful story. Frankly, both teams have been. It’s always nice to see fresh faces in the tournament. One stays. One goes.
The more complete team, and the better defense should make the difference. I just hope this one lives up to the billing.
I just picked every favorite this week.
What does everybody else think?
|—||Pete Carroll, still doing Pete Carroll things like faking punts up 30 in the fourth quarter. What’s your deal, Pete?|
Seattle-Miami and the real life Buffalo Wild Wings commercial.
The Seattle Seahawks took Tom Brady and the New England Patriots to task today, and since they’re 4-2, Seahawks corner Richard Sherman decided to boast about it on his twitter account. He briefly posted the above photo and went on, saying:
"Brady sure looks like a man who turned the 12thMan against us"
Sherman then attached a photo of Brady walking off the field dejectedly.
Spoils of victory? Or is the 2nd year defense man kicking up a hornets nest?
Before we get into that, some stuff just needs to be said. First of all, I’ve got to do something that the NFL is not going to do, and I have to apologize to the fans. Our sport is generated, a multi-billion dollar machine, by people who pay good money to come watch us play. And the product on the field is not being complemented by an appropriate set of officials. The games are getting out of control. Like I said in the first week, I’m OK with replacement refs as long as they don’t have a direct impact on the game. Obviously last night there was a direct impact on the game on multiple plays. But my thing is I just feel bad for the fans. They pay good money to watch this. The game is being tarnished by an NFL that obviously cares more about saving some money than having the integrity of the game diminished.
Welcome to Whose Ball Is It Anyway? Where the rules are made up and the points don’t matter.
While the ball is in the air, Tate can be seen shoving Green Bay cornerback Sam Shields to the ground. This should have been a penalty for offensive pass interference, which would have ended the game. It was not called and is not reviewable in instant replay.
When the players hit the ground in the end zone, the officials determined that both Tate and Jennings had possession of the ball. Under the rule for simultaneous catch, the ball belongs to Tate, the offensive player. The result of the play was a touchdown.
- Official NFL Statement on yesterday’s Monday Night Football game that ended with a controversial touchdown giving the Seattle Seahawks a victory over the Green Bay Packers.