STEELERS 20 - JETS 17 (OT)
Ben Roethlesberger said it best. He tried to lose the game for the Steelers…but the defense had his back. How true. In Big Ben’s first playoff game….he looked puzzled, sluggish and just off his game. He wasn’t a big numbers guy in the regular season….but he didn’t do anything stupid either. That comes with balance. A balanced team can have one of it’s main cogs struggle….yet able to win a game of this magnitude. The Jets did what they had to do [and I “so boldly predicted”…to steal a line]. They forced mistakes and that gave them a great opportunity to win the game. In fact, they twice had the game won. They trailed by 10 early….but made a valiant comeback with special teams and defensive plays. Jets kicker Doug Brien missed a FG as regulation expired….then missed another one in overtime. So, Pittsburgh survives to play another week. But they….and Ben…must play much better if they want to be either the Pats or the Colts.
FALCONS 47- RAMS 17
Wow. The Falcons thumped the Rams 47-17. Actually….the Falcons O-line thumped the Rams D-line. How is 327 yards rushing for ya?? The NFL’s top rushing team controlled the game and didn’t give the Rams an opportunity to stay in the contest [Atlanta held the ball for 35 minutes]. And for those anti-Vick people….well, sometimes you are right. The guy isn’t the best QB in the game. He only threw for 82 yards. But…the guy just wins. In his first season as a starter…Atlanta got into the playoffs and won in Lambeau Field. When he came back from injury late last year…the Falcons were 4-1. This year, they win the NFC South and received a first round bye. He’s a winner. I mean, when is the last time a playoff winning QB threw for 82 yards?? 1934?? But, he did run for 119 yards….including a huge 47 yard scamper. Whether they go into Philly or host Minnesota [a rematch of that 1999 NFC title game that the “Dirty Birds” upset the 15-1 Mighty Vikes]…..Atlanta will be a formidable foe.
PATRIOTS 20 - COLTS 3
Man. The Patriots showed why they are the defending Super Bowl champions…..and they also made us wonder why we forgot that. Despite a 14-2 regular season in which they added Corey Dillon [and his 1600+ rushing yards] to an already great team….all anyone wanted to talk about [including me] was how great that offense is that Peyton Manning and the Colts run. I mean….did you see him against Denver?? Or breaking Marino’s TD mark?? He set the passer rating record!! Oh…and he repeated as the MVP!! Speaking of repeats….the Pats repeated last year’s playoff showing in smacking the Colts, just as they repeated it in the first game of the season. Heck, they did it much better. This Pats defense, which hasn’t really gotten it’s due this season, pretty much shut down Manning. Brady made big passes….though nothing spectacular. He got it to an array of different receivers. But it was Corey Dillon running all over Indy that did the trick. Dillon played in first playoff game…and looked like he’d been in Foxboro for 4 years now. The Colts had their season end last year in New England….begin this year in New England….and end the year, again, in New England.
EAGLES 27 - VIKINGS 14
What is worse? Seeing the Eagles play in another NFC Championship Game….or not having Randy Moss around to point fingers at?? Well, both will happen…as the Eagles pretty much handled the Vikings and Moss 27-14. And they did it without Terrell Owens!!! Of course, they’ve done it 4 years in a row with no TO…and where has it gotten them?? On to the Vikings. Question….WHY DO YOU HAVE A FG KICKER THAT YOU DON’T TRUST TO KICK A FG OVER 30 YARDS!?!?!!? They tried a trick FG…that failed. They also went for it on a 4th and 22 in Eagles territory. Why is Morten Anderson on the team then?? Looking at the stat book…this was a pretty even game. Yardage, time of possession, etc. But, mistakes screwed up Minnesota. Two costlypicks by Culpepper…converting only 1-of-3 inside the red zone…and committing 7 penalties for 108 yards killed them. . By the way…tomorrow is Dr. Martin Luther King Day. How fitting that the NFC Divisional playoffs featured THREE black quarterbacks. After next week….the winner of the NFC title game [Vick or McNabb] will be the third black QB to start a Super Bowl….joining Doug Williams and Steve McNair.