Wednesday, January 25, 2012

I Guess There's Still Football Going On. Eh.

  • Poor Ravens. They played better than the Patriots. It’s too bad that two bad mistakes by Lee Evans and Billy Cundiff undid a strong performance by Baltimore. Poor guys. Especially Cundiff. Poor, poor Billy.

Yep. That pretty much says it all.

  • When the announcers pointed out that the laces weren’t completely out, wasn’t everyone in the country thinking of Ace Ventura? The good people at YouTube kindly put together a little updated version of the clip:

  • Joe Flacco played a strong game. So the Ravens have that going for them, I guess.

Sorry, buddy, but it's real.

  • Is there a more hated man in New England than Bernard Pollard? Playing on three different teams, he was involved on each play in which Tom Brady, Wes Welker, and Rob Gronkowski all sustained serious injuries.
Yeah, that one hurt.

  • Like the AFC game, it seemed like the 49ers played better for the majority of the game, but two big mistakes late cost them the game. I feel even worse for Kyle Williams than for Billy Cundiff! Just the wrong time of the season to have a bad day.
Awww. I'll be your friend, Kyle!

  • I’m disturbed by the Giants’ frank and almost gleeful admission that they purposely went after Kyle Williams because of his history of concussions. I understand playing hard and hitting hard and all that, but I think there’s a problem with going into a game with the intention of taking an opponent out of the game.

  • Jay Cutler’s going to be a dad! Congrats! Kristin Cavallari’s going to have her hands full planning a wedding, taking care of a whiny, sulking crybaby, and now with an infant on the way! Zing!
"No! I won't take a nap! I hate nap time! It's stupid!"


The teenage years.

Jk, Jay! We're happy for you!

  • The hat Tim Tebow always wears is cute, and I think he looks good in it, but it seems to be permanently fused to his scalp of late. Is he going bald or something? He’s been wearing it everywhere he goes! Not that I’m stalking him or anything ...

  • It’s hard to know whom to cheer for in the Super Bowl. I hate the Patriots, because they’re the Patriots and everything about them is awful. But, I’m still mad at the Giants. And if Eli Manning wins another Super Bowl, we’ll all have to pretend he’s an “elite” quarterback. Yes, he’s improved greatly this season, but this is still Eli Manning we’re talking about. I don’t care how many Super Bowls he wins! If you were starting a team from scratch, aren’t there at least ten other quarterbacks you’d rather have than Eli? I’d take a neckless Peyton over him. I guess the best I’m hoping for is that Eli is pulled from the game due to injury or terribleness and the Giants’ defense shuts up smug New Englanders. That way both the Patriots and Eli lose.
Both teams are stinky and smelly.

  • But, really, who cares about the Super Bowl without the Green Bay Packers?
The Pro Bowl is now my Super Bowl.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

I Just Don't Like Life That Much Anymore

  • That was bad. I mean, it wasn’t even close. The Packers scored only two touchdowns - and neither of them should have counted! One came on the drive that was allowed to continue after Greg Jennings' fumble was inexplicably not overturned, and the other touchdown drive was saved by a terrible roughing-the-passer call against the Giants.

  • The defensive atrocities I’ve come to accept, but I’ve just never seen the Packers make so many mistakes on offense.

  • The absolute worst play of the game was on the second to last play of the first half that setup the Hail Mary touchdown. The Giants were facing 3rd-and-1 with a dwindling clock and the Packers allowed Ahmad Bradshaw to run for the first down, plus an extra 22 yards, across the entire freaking football field, and get out of the bounds to stop the clock. Honestly, how does this happen? HOW??
"Gotcha! Wait, why are you still running? Are we playing tackle??"

  • I understand McCarthy was trying to make something happen with that onside kick to start the second quarter, and I know the Packers have had success with that in the past, but I have to question the timing. The Giants were unable to convert the recovered kick to points when Brad Jones blocked the field goal, but I thought losing the onside kick was a bit of a hit to the Packers' confidence. Then again, it was clear that the Packers desperately needed a spark, and if it had worked, I’d be calling McCarthy a genius.

  • I do not think the Packers lost because they had too much rest. That’s an easy answer because the Packers played very un-Packer-like football, and people are looking for what was different this week -- extra time off. There’s a problem with causality there. Critics of the McCarthy’s decision to rest some players try to make it sound as if all the starters took the final week off, but Rodgers was really the only healthy offensive player who did not play. I find it hard to believe that anyone believes that if Aaron Rodgers had played week 17 against Detroit that this week’s game would have been any different.
Finley still would have dropped pass after pass.

  • Who would have ever thought the NFC Championship would be Giants at 49ers???
I think Alex is pretty surprised himself.

  • Football " purists" will be happy. Three of the four teams left are known for their defensive identities, so cue the annoying slobbering about “real football,” “smash-mouth football,” and “this is what the game is really all about!”

  • I dread any game on CBS because I have to listen to their terrible announcers try to wade the complexities of calling the entire game competently.

  • The media’s love affair with the Ravens’ defense is vomit-inducing. Especially when it comes to Ray Lewis. I get praising the players - they’re excellent, but have some restraint. Every time Ray Lewis screams into the camera, the announcers fall over themselves to say brilliant things like, “Nobody, and I mean nobody plays with more passion than Ray Lewis!!!!!” Okay, fine, but you just said the same thing three minutes ago about Terrell Suggs … and Ed Reed … and Haloti Ngata.
"LOOK! HE'S DANCING!" Just like he does every. single. game.

  • Arian Foster is really, really good. Also, cool haircut.

  • I would like to see the 49ers beat the Giants because I’m mad at the Giants, but, while both teams have strong defenses, it sure seems that the Giants have the offensive edge.

  • I would also love, love, love to see the Ravens take out the Patriots, but does anyone honestly feel good taking Joe in a Flacco vs. Brady contest?
I'd feel more confident in you, Joe,  if I felt that you felt more confident.

  • Unfortunately, Tim Tebow’s out of the playoffs. But that doesn’t mean we can’t still talk about him constantly! Apparently, Tebow played much of the second half of the Patriots game with torn cartilage in his ribs, as well as a bruised lung, which cause fluid build-up. Poor Timmy! As someone who prays for the sweet relief of death if she stubs her toe, I find this level of pain tolerance quite impressive. (And it's nothing compared to Anquan Boldin!)
Don't hurt him! Don't you know that's Tim Tebow?!

  • Wow - how dysfunctional are the Jets? After a Week 17 meltdown and accusations of bad attitudes in the locker room, third-string quarterback Greg McElroy helpfully chimed in, saying the Jets had a “corrupt mindset,” while some unnamed players called Mark Sanchez “lazy,” and expressed a desire for a trade that would send Peyton Manning to New York. And you thought there were problems in your workplace...
"Yeah, well, I'm still a millionaire dating a supermodel."

  • The Chicago Bears also have a lot to sort out. They fired GM Jerry Angelo, but kept head coach Lovie Smith. Offensive coordinator Mike Martz walked away, and offensive line coach Mike Tice was promoted to run the offense. Now, it turns out, Tice has requested to interview for the Raiders’ head coaching vacancy. Yikes. The Bears will have to find a GM and potentially another offensive coordinator, and, since the Bears have already confirmed Lovie Smith’s return, it might be difficult to persuade candidates to join when they are not allowed to bring in their own staffs. 
And they'd have to have this turnover machine as QB.

  • This week was beyond terrible, but I still love the Packers!!!!! Go Niners. I guess.
It's ok, Aaron. Even the best have off days.

Here, have one of these to console yourself.

Friday, January 13, 2012

New York Giants at Green Bay

The New York Giants are back in town for the first Lambeau Field playoff game since the 2007 season, when Brett Favre, once again, destroyed the hopes of a nation while the Giants went on to win the Super Bowl. The Giants are the hot team, on a three-game win streak, including last week's utter dismantling of the Atlanta Falcons. 

Eli Manning has had an excellent season, throwing 32 touchdowns and limiting his interceptions to 16, and generally looking more competent than usual. Their running game, which has struggled for most of the season, seems to have hit its stride with the return of Ahmad Bradshaw providing a nice complement to bruising back Brandon Jacobs.

The Packers defense is going to have to do something. They’ve been completely incapable of generating any pass rush this season and their run defense is nothing to write home about. They’ll give up big plays, as they have all year, but they need to offset that by forcing some turnovers. I’m counting on Manning reverting to Classic Eli and throwing some easy interceptions or committing an inopportune fumble. I don’t like to defend the Packers 32nd-ranked defense too much, but they do, in fact, lead the league in interceptions, and have kept the opposing quarterback’s rating at a reasonable 80.6, so it’s not all terrible. Though the defense has certainly been disappointing, the Packers have some great talent on the defense. They just need to step up. 

How about a couple of interceptions from each of you on Sunday?

Now, the Giants’ defense is great, no doubt. For almost the first time this season, they are enjoying a healthy defensive line. Osi Umenyiora, Justin Tuck, and JPII are scary. They’ll bring it. On the upside, however, if there’s one quarterback you’d want when facing pressure, who would it be? That’s right, Aaron Rodgers.

"Don't worry, girl. I got this."

While the Giants’ offense has been clicking of late, and while they have some incredible receivers (Hakeem Nicks seems to have at least one circus catch a game) - the Packers have Aaron Rodgers. He’s got his original offensive line back together, he's got James Starks returning to help out Ryan Grant, and he still has the best group of receivers in the league. Greg Jennings is back and ready to destroy the Giants’ secondary again.

The Giants are confident, to say the least, with several team members already guaranteeing a victory. They certainly have reason to be confident, but perhaps not as much as they think. This is the same team that got beat by the Redskins - yes, the WASHINGTON REDSKINS! - not even four weeks ago. Their last four victories have come against a crumbling Jets team, a hapless Cowboys team (twice), and a fraud of a Falcons team. Before that, they lost four straight to Green Bay, New Orleans, Philadelphia, and San Francisco. Again, the Giants were dealing with some big injuries, and Green Bay barely squeaked out a win last month. BUT, the Packers were missing some key players that game, too - Desmond Bishop, A.J. Hawk, Josh Sitton. Charles Woodson left the game early with concussion, too. And that game was played at MetLife Stadium. The Packers have not lost at Lambeau since October 17, 2010.

If any team knows the benefit of getting hot at the right time, it is the Packers, who rode their own hot streak all the way to the Super Bowl last year. But I love the mindset of this team. They don’t care if people are spending all their time drooling over the Giants and the Saints. They don’t care what happened in 2007. They don’t get too caught up in the emotions of the game. They don’t panic. 

"Don't worry. I still got this."

I think it will be a very good game, between two very good teams, but I’ll still take 68.3%-completing, 9.2.-yards-per-throw-averaging, 45-touchdown-passes-and-only-six-interceptions-throwing, 122.5-passer-rated Aaron Rodgers and the 15-1, 8-0-at-home, Super Bowl-winning, defending champions Green Bay Packers.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Wild Card Weekend

  • TEBOOOOOW!!! Wow! How fun was that?! The Steelers had a great drive in the fourth quarter to tie the game, but I had to wonder how they felt when they were facing overtime versus Tim Tebow.

  • One of Tebow’s favorite Bible verses is John 3:16. As a Gator, he would sometimes display the chapter and verse in his eyeblack. On Sunday, Tebow threw for 316 yards, averaging 31.6 yards per game. CBS liked the number, too, as 31.6 million people tuned in to see the end of the game. Roethlisberger, heathen that I’m sure he is, probably doesn’t like the number: he threw the sole interception of the game on a 3rd-and-16 play. AAHHHH!
And in the seventh week, God started Tim Tebow...

  • Demaryius Thomas caught just four passes, but averaged 51 yards per catch!

  • Okay, okay, as much fun as Tebowmania is, the Broncos had a lot of help. Roethlisberger was playing with an ankle injury that would have kept most players out for weeks. The Steelers were without their starting running back, as well as their starting center. Starting safety Ryan Clark was out because of a health condition. As powerful a force as their front seven is, I’ve always thought Pittsburgh’s secondary is a very weak unit disguised by Troy Polamalu’s exceptional play. But with Polamalu playing like a ghost of his former self, the Broncos were able to take advantage of the bruised and battered Steelers.
Where ya been, Troy?

  • I am not a fan of the playoff overtime rules. If it’s important enough to change the rules for the playoffs, why not for the regular season, too? I have a huge problem with having different rules for different times of the year.

  • Big Ben thinks he’s Al Capone.

  • If you’re wondering what he was thinking putting on that hat, here’s a breakdown:

  • New Orleans put up 626 yards of offense. Wow. That is a lot of yards.
I wonder if these 2 even broke a sweat.

  • Arian Foster is incredible on this touchdown run! He absolutely destroys Cincinnati's Chris Crocker, easily throwing him to the ground! With his left arm! While staying inbounds!

  • Atlanta: that was absolutely pathetic. We all kinda knew you were playoff frauds, but not to that extent. I mean, it’s the playoffs! Win or go home! One chance! And all you can muster is an accidental two points?!? Come ON!
That's right, hide your face in shame!

  • And I like the aggressiveness of going for it on fourth-and-inches, but not in an away game; not in a playoff game; not in a game that‘s shaping up to be a defensive battle. Take the points! And honestly, Mike Smith, how many of those fourth-and-short plays does your team have to lose before you decide to take the field goal??

  • AND, Mike Smith, if you are going to keep going for it on fourth-and-short, maybe mix up the play calls a bit? Maybe put in your beast of a running back instead of having him sit on the sidelines and forcing Matt Ryan to try to gain yardage when the entire defense knows exactly what is about to happen? Maybe?
No, he's not crying. He always looks like that.

  • And poor Tony Gonzalez! The 15-year-veteran - and probably the best tight end to ever play - is still without a playoff win.

  • I would love to see New Orleans’ unstoppable-force offense meet the Giants’ suddenly  immovable-object defense. But alas, the Giants will not be playing any more after next Sunday.

  • Matt Prater may have more of a divine touch than Tebow. The man who can kick 70-yard field goals started off the game kicking the ball so far that it hit the crossbar. That’s a touchback, so place the ball on the 20-yard line. Oh, wait, no need to: the ball bounced off the crossbar and stopped exactly at the 20-yard line.

  • Is anyone else curious as to how Josh McDaniels is allowed to join the Patriots’ coaching staff before the season is over???
Hey, Josh, how many friends do you have?

  • A lot of questions surround Green Bay’s upcoming game with the Giants, but I think the biggest one is: what will happen to Tom Coughlin’s face this time?
It was very cold...

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Matty Nice Breaks Records, Jets Exit as They Came In, and Norv Survives Black Monday

  • The Jets are out. The Cowboys are out. Life is good.

  • How ‘bout that Matty Flynn?! I love how he broke Aaron Rodgers’ records - and set franchise records - in his second career start! 480 yards, 6 touchdowns, and a perfect 158.3 passer rating in the fourth quarter.

  • Matthew Stafford wasn’t half bad, either, breaking 5,000 throwing yards on the season. We all knew that Brees and Brady were going to break Dan Marino’s record, but who would have thought Stafford would come within 46 yards?? Flynn and Stafford combined for 1,000 yards and 11 touchdowns. Crazy.

  • After a very quiet game against the Packers on Thanksgiving, Megatron made some noise in a big way, catching 11 passes for 244 yards!
You, sir, are a stud.

  • Rodgers may have let Flynn break his yards and touchdowns in a game numbers, but Aaron now owns the NFL record for best passer rating in a season with 122.5.

  • Only four quarterbacks in NFL history have thrown for over 475 yards and 6 touchdowns: Y.A. Tittle, Joe Namath, Joe Montana, and Matt Flynn.

  • I felt compelled to look up what Y.A. Tittle’s name stood for. His full name is Yelberton Abraham Tittle. That is fantastic. I’m going to name my first son Yelberton.

  • Jordy made Alphonso Smith look like a paper doll on this touchdown.

  • That Larry Fitzgerald is one tough guy. The spectacular receiver helped the Cardinals to an overtime victory while suffering from a bruised lung!

  • The Bears ousted GM Jerry Angelo, which I heartily support. The Bears are a poorly run organization, in my opinion. Their refusal to spend money on an offensive line, the Matt Forte contract debacle, the inability to get offensive coordinator Mike Martz on the same page as everyone else, screwing over the Baltimore Ravens on draft day and then refusing to own up to it, and a spree of bad signings (Roy Williams, anyone?) are all red flags. They also don’t seem interested in taking care of their players. Just ask Greg Olsen about his feelings on the team.

  • As it turns out, the Bears don't have to worry about Martz anymore, as he resigned today, citing "philosophical differences," which I guess is the NFL version of "irreconcilable differences" for celebrity couples.
"We ask you to respect our privacy during this difficult time."

  • With the starting outside linebacker position up for grabs, Brad Jones didn't waste any opportunity to show off his tackling technique.
Any time you feel tempted to run onto the field, just remember this.

  • It’s hard to imagine the Steelers going far into the playoffs with all the injuries they’ve sustained. Roethlisberger’s ankle is beat up, and now running back Rashard Mendenhall’s season is over after tearing his ACL. Then again, they are playing the Broncos...

  • In the Fiesta Bowl, Stanford's rookie kick returner Ty Montgomery wanted to run the ball out of the endzone. His teammate, however, strongly advised him otherwise

  • Alright Patriot fans, watch this video and just try to tell me that there are not “Tom Brady rules." Absolutely ridiculous.

  • You stay classy, Jets. In the final game, receiver Santonio Holmes was benched for fighting with his teammates in the huddle, after fighting with Mark Sanchez and generally acting like a sullen teenager in a team meeting earlier in the week. Then Bart Scott, who loves media attention when the Jets are winning, declined an interview in his own, charming fashion. Hmm, I wonder where they get their respectful attitude and good sportsmanship from?

  • Seattle’s Marshawn Lynch really like Skittles, apparently. His mom used to give him Skittles after he scored touchdowns when he was a kid, and now he has someone on the sidelines who gives him Skittles when he scores.  No, for real. He gave a little tribute to his favorite treat last week. (And was fined, of course.)
These are so awesomely cool! I want a pair!

  • Norv Turner is not fired. I have no idea how. The man must have some incredibly incriminating dirt on someone high up in the Chargers organization.
"And then you will make me GM, President, and starting QB ... or else!"

  • Oh, Pat Lee. If Randall Cobb ever gets injured, the Packers might try to negotiate some kind of deal with the opposing team. Maybe just forgo the kickoff/punt and give the Packers the ball at the 15?? Because, it turns out, no one else is capable of competent returns. Not even Jordy, whom I love, obviously, but he does not have a great track record with holding onto the ball on punts and kickoffs.

  • Yahoo! Sports pointed out perhaps the oddest thing to happen this weekend: “The Texans lost, and it was not Jake Delhomme’s fault. Delhomme came in for an injured T.J. Yates, they trusted him to throw the ball 28 times, and he did so without throwing a single interception. So, of course, someone snaps a ball over his head and they lose.”
"Seriously? How can a loss not be blamed on Jake Delhomme?"

  • Rams’ coach Steve Spagnuolo was fired, which makes sense for a 2-14 team. I think they should have also shown Josh McDaniels the door. He came in as offensive coordinator and took a team that had 4,846 yards of offense and 27 touchdowns last season and turned them into a team that struggled to gain 3,537 yards of offense and 16 touchdowns. SIXTEEN TOUCHDOWNS! I know there were many injuries for the Rams, but to regress like that after the Rams showed so much promise last year is unfortunate, to say the least.

  • The Broncos lost, but still made the playoffs. Whew! There will still be hours and hours of media coverage on Tim Tebow.
Just stop throwing INTs, Timmy, and crazy things can happen.

  • I hate Jared Allen, but I still feel kinda bad for him falling 1 sack shy of setting a new season record, especially when you consider how Michael Strahan “earned” his final sack.

Okay, okay, I’ll get to the officiating in the Lions-Packers game. I’m not a big fan of losing teams whining about the referees, but the game was horribly called and the Lions were on the short end of the stick several times. (Not that the Lions whined; they didn't.) First off is the fact that Jim Schwartz had to throw the challenge flag twice before halftime. The first one was ruled a Lions’ fumble, but was rightly overturned. The second one was also ruled a Lions’ fumble, but because there was no clear shot of the ball on the play, the ruling had to stand, even though common sense suggests that the player was down by contact. At this point, Schwartz has used up all his challenges, which is not really fair, since they were both bad calls by the refs. And it’s not like Schwartz wasted his challenges on little things like first down completions or something. He had to throw the challenge flags on both because they were turnvovers! So, the Lions get screwed on that second fumble call. (Though the Packers were not able to score any points off of it, as Flynn threw an interception a couple of plays later.)
The Titus Young non-touchdown call was by far the worst, however. Young caught the ball and was able to drag his second foot on the ground for the score. Except the refs called it incomplete. And because it was ruled not a scoring play, it was not automatically reviewed. And the Lions didn’t have any challenges left. This is poor officiating on multiple levels. First off, you have a ref standing right there, staring directly as Young’s feet. His only job is to see if Young gets two feet in and maintains possession. How do you miss that?! Furthermore, since the new rule that mandates a review of every scoring play came into effect, officials have been much, much more likely to rule a questionable call a touchdown, knowing that it will get looked at. Schwartz wondered why the Lions did not get that benefit that every other team has received, and it’s a fair question. If the refs had ruled it a touchdown, it would have been reviewed, and if Young had not gotten both feet in, then it would have been overturned.
Finally, there was the Jordy Nelson fair catch in the fourth quarter. The fact that Schwartz was out of challenges was moot, since the play was not reviewable. Why, I can’t imagine. One of these arbitrary decrees by the NFL, I guess. For the record, I think Jordy did have possession. He made a fair catch signal, caught the ball in his right arm (thereby ending the play), and it was when he was shifting the ball from his right to his left that he lost control. That being said, I don’t know if the officials would have seen it the same way I do had it been reviewed, and there was certainly a chance they could have called it Detroit’s ball.
    All in all, a rough day for Detroit. You know it’s bad when smug, self-congratulatory, bespectacled Mike Pereira admits that there's a problem. I don’t like to say outcomes would be different because of officiating, but it would have been nice for Detroit if they had been given the opportunities they deserved.