Well, my readers, the NFL Divisional round games for the 2012-13 post season are in the books. The weekend’s games were much better than the previous weekend’s Wild Card games by a mile. There were a lot of great plays, and the games were pretty high scoring games. Of course, there as a little drama as well.
I watched the games on Saturday, January 12, between the Denver Broncos vs the Baltimore Ravens, and the San Fransisco 49ers vs the Green Bay Packers in their entirety. On Sunday, January 13, however, due to illness, I only was able to watch the first quarter of the game Atlanta Falcons vs the Seattle Seahawks, and the last 5 minutes of the New England Patriots vs the Houston Texans.
That being said, I saw enough of the highlights of both the Falcons and the Patriots games to make this particular blog a general commentary on the weekend’s games, instead of an in depth analysis. I hope that my readers will forgive me, and will enjoy this commentary instead.
Before I get started, I am going to admit that the NFL games in the post season are harder to pick than in the regular season. Last week, I was 2-2. This week, I really swung and missed. I went 1-3. I think the sports gods are telling me to stick with picking the horses.
Let’s start this commentary by going over the results. In the Saturday games, the Baltimore Ravens pulled a stunning upset of the favored Denver Broncos in double OT by a score of 38-35, and the San Fransisco 49ers defeated the Green Bay Packers by a score of 45-31.
On Sunday, the Atlanta Falcons finally won their first playoff game in the Head Coach Mike Smith/ QB Matt Ryan era, when they just squeaked by the Seattle Seahawks by a 30-28 score, and the New England Patriots once again defeated the Houston Texans resoundingly by a score of 41-28.
As a result of these games, in the NFC Championship Game, the Atlanta Falcons will host the San Fransisco 49ers, and in the AFC Championship Game, the New England Patriots will host the Baltimore Ravens. The Championship Games will be aired Sunday, January 20, 2013. The winners of each game will advance to the Super Bowl in New Orleans on February 3, 2013.
Let’s start with the Denver/Baltimore game. I am not a fan of either team, especially the Baltimore Ravens. However, I feel as a journalist, I have to give credit where credit is due, and praise Ravens QB Joe Flacco. Flacco played a wonderful game, especially with his deep ball. He and his receivers, Jacoby Jones, and Torrey Smith had amazing chemistry. Flacco really is coming into his own as an awesome QB. Ray Rice, RB out of my alma mater Rutgers University, had a solid game as well.
The Baltimore Defense and Special Teams gave up 35 points, but they did not give up. They did make plays when it counted the most. Retiring LB Ray Lewis had 17 tackles in the game. The pass rush was lacking a good part of the game, but they eventually did get to Broncos QB Peyton Manning, sacking him, and causing a fumble. They also got him to throw a game killer INT.
As for Denver, I have to just say congratulations on a good season. However, John Fox had me shaking my head. He must come from the Marty Schottenheimer school of “play not to lose.” There is also a reason why Jack Del Rio, the defensive coordinator, is not a head coach anymore either. I mean, that Broncos defense that was ranked 5th in the NFL, and was touted by the talking heads as being so tough never showed up.
I mean, what happened to the secondary? People say Ray Lewis is “old.” I am no fan of Ray Lewis, but why are people saying Champ Bailey (who is no spring chicken) just had a bad game? Do people watch the games? Bailey showed the whole world that he got blasted by those Ravens receivers. Bailey was showing his age. So far in the playoffs, Ray Lewis has 30 tackles. I can’t believe I am defending Ray Lewis, but people have to stop giving certain players passes.
What happened to the vaunted Von Miller, and Elvis Dumervil, while we are talking about the Denver defense? I hardly heard their names. That defense as a whole was awful in the game. Luckily for Denver, they got 14 points from the special teams unit, and 21 points from the offensive side, or this loss would have been horrid.
Back to Fox, what was up with the play calling? You had two time outs with 30 seconds on the clock at the end of regulation, and you don’t let Peyton Manning chuck it down field for at least a shot at a field goal? That was just crazy. The clock management was awful.
As for Peyton, two picks, and the second one that he threw across his body, that was awful. Peyton looked alright out there. However, on that second pick, he should know more than anyone not to throw that. However, he again is one and done. I don’t know if the cold affected his arm or what, but he is now 9-11 in playoffs.
The 49ers/Green Bay game was awesome. I think that Colin Kaepernick grew up, and became a star right in front of our eyes. I missed part of the game due to watching the Ravens/Broncos game, but I found out about Colin’s pick six. However, it didn’t faze him, and he led the team to a TD, and the rest was history.
Kaepernick has great chemistry with WR Michael Crabtree. The two work well together. No, I am NOT going to call them Montana-Rice just yet, but the tandem is one to watch. Kaepernick is very judicious with the ball. He doesn’t take off running, and seems to know when to run. He also doesn’t run where he risks getting hurt.
The Packers on the other hand, appeared to be out of sorts. The offensive line has to be dealt with. Aaron Rodgers, as good a QB as he is, can not keep taking these beatings. The Packer organization needs to draft offensive line.
The whole team seemed to be puzzled on how to stop the 49ers from scoring, and on how to score against them. Rodgers made some ill advised throws that he usually doesn’t make. The Packers defense, as much as several members are touted by the media, were just gashed by the 49ers’ offense.
I never would have thought that the Packers, two post seasons in a row, would be blown out. On the other hand, the 49ers were just beasts.
Well, if there is any consolation to Packers fans, the Atlanta Falcons defeated the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday. I saw the first quarter of this game before becoming ill, but I saw enough of the replays to make a comment.
Even though I am not a fan of either team, I am happy for Tony Gonzalez, who’s the main TE for the Falcons. He has been a great player for so long, and he has finally won a playoff game. Gonzalez is also considered a great person off the field as well.
That being said, even though the Falcons won their first play off game under Head Coach Mike Smith and under QB Matt Ryan, how it all happened made me still a little hesitant to totally buy in. In the first quarter, they started well against Seattle, building a 10-0 lead. Yes, Seattle’s CB Richard Sherman made some plays.
Now, even though the team won 30-28, some things bothered me on both sides. Going into the 4th quarter, the Falcons were up 28-7. I understand that there is a lot of pressure to win their first playoff game. I get that. However, what I question was the Falcon’s organization’s mental toughness. They started to get tight, and Seattle came back, and got a lead of 28-27 for about 15 seconds when Matt Ryan made some throws, and got the team into kicker Matt Bryant’s field goal range.
Here is where it gets crazy for the Seahawks, on the first FG attempt which Bryant wound up missing, Seahawks coach Pete Carroll called timeout to “ice” the kicker. Well, that wound up being a mistake because on the second try, Bryant made it, giving the Falcons a 30-28 lead.
The Falcons win after the Seahawks recover the on side kick, and QB Russell Wilson throws a Hail Mary, but Falcons WR Julio Jones catches it.
The Falcons survived a huge scare. How does a team allow another to come back on them like that. Always keep the pedal to the metal. Don’t worry about people saying it’s “running up the score.” The other team has a defense, it’s their job to stop you.
The last game between the New England and the Houston Texans was pretty much what I expected as far as the outcome. This was the only game that I picked correctly. Thank you Tom Brady, Bill Belichick, and the gang. At least I got one right the whole weekend.
Congratulations to Tom Brady for passing Joe Montana for the most playoff wins. Brady now has 17, and Montana had 16.
We all know about Brady’s greatness, and that he had terrific stats in the game, so I don’t have to go over that. However, on the other side of the ball, I don’t know what to do with Matt Schaub of the Texans. He is a good, solid QB. I don’t know if I would label him “elite.” Right at the kickoff, Texans Daniel Manning ran a 94 yard return, only to be caught by FS Devon McCourty. Instead of punching it in for a TD, on the replay, I could see Schaub was skittish in the pocket, and threw the ball into the stands, and the Texans settle for 3 points.
The Patriots just dominated the Texans on both sides of the ball, despite the slow start. Unfortunately, Danny Woodhead injured his thumb, and Rob Gronkowski re-broke his arm. Woodhead is expected to play in the AFC Championship game, but Gronkowski is going to need surgery, and will miss the playoffs. However, the team seemed to be able to make the adjustments.
The Texans may have to look into getting more explosive players on offense, and defense. LB Brian Cushing’s injury hurt the team on defense. The team needs more offense besides Foster and Johnson.
As I said previously, the Patriots will face the Ravens for the AFC Championship Game. This will be the first time since Denver and Cleveland, when two teams have faced each other in the AFC Championship game back to back.
Well, that is my commentary. I hope you enjoyed it.
Terri Bey currently blogs for CamelClutchBlog.com about Wrestling, NFL, and other sports/pop culture related subjects. Her work has appeared in BleacherReport and for F4WOnline.com. Terri can be found here at Facebook- http://www.facebook.com/TerriBey and at Twitter- http://www.twitter.com/giopontifan
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