- Okay, okay, fine, maybe there was more to the game than that. Maybe that’s not 100% totally and absolutely accurate, but allow me some sour grapes. In particular:
- On the final Arizona Cardinals touchdown -- the ridiculous tipped pass -- there was no offensive pass interference called on John Brown (#13), who was bullrushing Casey Hayward into the back of the endzone. (Also, it royally sucks that good defense leads to this touchdown.)
- There was no defensive pass interference on Arizona on the first play of the hail Mary drive when the defender pinned Jared Abbrederis’ arm to his body. Abbrederis -- surprise -- wasn’t able to pull in the catch with only one arm.
- Two plays later, Jeff Janis was “defended” by Jerraud Powers, who wrapped himself around Janis like a shoulder holster. Again, no flag was thrown.
- As far as the last two points go, however, the Packers did score on that drive, so my complaints are somewhat moot. The Packers had their chance in overtime, but one stupid blown coverage and some bad tackling angles -- while trying to collapse on Carson Palmer, who was 1/100th of a second away from getting sacked -- on a single play undid all of the exceptional work the Green Bay defense did on Saturday night.
- (No, I don’t think the overtime rules need to be changed -- defense is half the game, too. If you can’t stop a team from scoring a touchdown, you don’t have a particularly strong claim to victory. And no, I don’t care about the “controversy” surrounding the coin flip. I understand Rodgers being irked about not getting to recall -- he always chooses the side that’s not facing up -- in such a tight game, but that’s a silly thing to worry about. A coin flip is a matter of luck, and the Packers can’t say the game hinged on that. Yes, I think they probably would have won the game if they won the coin toss, but there’s no guarantee, and your defense has to show up..)
- That’s now two absolute gut-punch playoff overtime losses to the Arizona Cardinals for the Green Bay Packers. I might have to start hating those bastards on principle. Another heartbreaking statistic? Aaron Rodgers is 7-6 in the postseason. Of those six losses, four occurred on the last play of the game.
- The Packers played a really, really excellent game. They were facing a top-five defense with a hobbled offensive line and without their FOUR top receivers -- Jordy, Randall Cobb, Davante Adams, and Ty Montgomery. They were also going up against the top offense in the league, which they held to 75 first-half yards and against which they forced two turnovers. (Sam Shield also dropped two interceptions - gah!) The defense -- which played most of the game without starting safety Micah Hyde -- didn’t allow Arizona to score any points off Green Bay’s sole turnover (a Rodgers interception), twice forced the Cardinals to settle for field goals in the redzone, and held a team that averages 118 rushing yards per game to 40 rushing yards. All of this for a team that, frankly, looked like a disaster heading into the postseason.
|Well done, DBs. Well done. *Tear*|
- Despite Shields’ two dropped interceptions (gah!), it was wonderful to see him back on the field after he missed four weeks with a scary concussion. (I was very worried about him.) Cris Collinsworth pointed out how having Shields back really allowed Dom Capers to expand the defensive playbook, and Sam's coverage allowed them to get pressure up front that they had struggled to get without him.
- A lot of criticism has been (rightly, I think) leveled at head coach Mike McCarthy this season for his playcalling, but he deserves a lot of credit for this game. There were a couple of slow-and-steady drives before the half that really put Green Bay in a great position. Although those drives only resulted in two field goals, they each ran nearly eight minutes off the clock and kept the ball out of the hands of the Arizona offense.
- Dear, sweet, beautiful Green Eyes suffered a painful injury on a spectacular catch that ended up not counting. Cobb was seen on the sidelines coughing up blood after the catch and had to be taken to locker room. He spent the night in a Phoenix hospital with a bruised lung (ow), and was released the next day. As far as the actual play goes, I wish -- I really, really, really wish -- the NFL could explain to me how, when one team gets one penalty on a play, and the other team gets two penalties on the same play, all the penalties &$%^ ing “offset.” Poor Randall’s pretty little lung was injured for nothing.
- Another electrifying play that didn’t count was Patrick Peterson’s 100-yard pick-six of Aaron Rodgers, which was called back for an illegal use of hands penalty on Arizona. So Rodgers still has just one pick-six in his entire career. I’m sometimes a little harsh on running back James Starks, but I cannot say how much I love him for trying to chase down Peterson to the very end here.
- Even if the ending was the worst possible outcome in the entire world, it was entertaining to see two such evenly-matched teams (for this game at least) go at it. Green Bay had 386 yards to Arizona’s 368; the teams were within 40 seconds of each other on time of possession; Arizona had 20 first downs to Arizona’s 18; and each team had 5.8 yards per play.
- The best part of the game was the insane, hang-on-to-the-edge-of-your-seat final drive of regulation. Thanks to a positively shocking decision by the Cardinals to throw the ball rather than run time off the clock -- when the Packers had no timeouts left, no less -- Green Bay got the ball back with 1:55 left in the game, down seven points. Thanks to the aforementioned no-call on the Abbrederis incompletion and a 10-yard sack the next play and the aforementioned no-call on the Janis incompletion, Green Bay was facing an almost impossible 4th-and-20 from their own four-yard line. Rodgers took the snap and was almost immediately put on the run. He rolled out, escaped the pressure and THREW A 60-YARDER TO JANIS!!!!!!!!!
- We all thought we had seen the most impressive throw of the game, BUT WAIT. The Packers burned 34 seconds getting the next play off, but then got a penalty because 34 seconds wasn’t enough for Richard Rodgers to get set. An incompletion later, the Green Bay Packers had four seconds left, still down seven, and 41 yards to go. Packers fans immediately thought of the Detroit Lions game in Week 13. There’s no way the Packers could pull off two successful Hail Marys in the same season, right? EXCEPT THAT WE HAVE AARON RODGERS!!!!!!
- What other quarterback in the league can make those throws??? And how bout little-used fan favorite Jeff Janis?? Janis had 101 yards on that drive alone!
- I can’t decide if it’s more or less painful that this loss came at the end of a rather disappointing season. On the one hand, I really didn’t expect them to win a single playoff game so it’s not like my hopes had gotten very high. On the other hand, it would have been all the more amazing if they had made it to the conference championship when they were so bedraggled and downtrodden! It would have been such a Disney story! Alas!
- Even when their team isn’t playing, Minnesota Vikings fans still lose.
|He bougt that ticket all 4 naugt.|
- The Pittsburgh Steelers were in something of a similar situation as the Packers against the Denver Broncos. They had a ton of injuries -- quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was being held together by duct tape (supposedly), wide receiver Antonio Brown was out with a concussion, running back DeAngelo Williams was out with a foot injury, and the team had already lost running back Le’veon Bell for the season -- but nearly pulled off the upset, holding onto a slim lead before a fumble early in the fourth quarter allowed Denver to take the lead for good.
- The running back who fumbled, Fitz Toussaint, was beside himself after the game, shouldering the blame for the loss. Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin and the rest of the team, however, all publicly shared the blame. Tomlin found Toussaint in the locker room after the game to give him a hug. (Awww.) Take note, Mike Zimmer.
- I always appreciate a great downing at the goal line, so I have to give Denver a shout-out for this play.
- While this was a positive play for Peyton Manning and the Broncos, it’s still awfully sad to watch, like watching your grandpa fall, but then refuse any assistance in getting up.
- You’d hardly know that the Steelers were even in a game this weekend, because the NFL is too busy drooling over the BRADY-MANNING MATCHUP!! THIS COULD BE THE LAST TIME!! TWO LEGENDS MEET! THINK OF THE RATINGS!! THINK OF THE MONEY!! I didn’t watch the entire Pittsburgh-Denver game, so I was trying to see what I missed, but I didn’t learn much from this ESPN recap of the game which literally spends the first 12 paragraphs talking about next week’s game.
|Piercing stares like this only increase the tension!|
- Speaking of the New England Patriots, their game against the Kansas City Chiefs was fairly predictable. The Chiefs tried to make a game of it, but when New England was leading 14-6 at halftime, history told us it was all but over. This might be the most incredible sports stat I’ve ever seen.
|Make that 93-1.|
- History wasn’t the only thing standing in the way of a Kansas City comeback. There was another obstacle: coach Andy Reid.
|One of the NFL's most epic rivalries.|
- With seven and a half minutes left in the fourth quarter, things were looking bleak for KC. They had just turned the ball over on downs, and New England was holding a 27-13 lead. When the Patriots went three-and-out on their next possession, the Chiefs got the ball back with 6:29 on the clock, three timeouts, and the two-minute warning. All of sudden, a comeback wasn’t totally out of the question! Chiefs (and Eagles) fans, however, know how this plays out. Reid’s team led a slow and methodical drive down the field which eventually resulted in a touchdown. The bad news was that they took more than five minutes to do it!! And -- of course -- Reid kept his three timeouts firmly in his back pocket.
|"Slow and steady wins the race..."|
- Even more baffling was Reid’s staunch refusal to admit to any degree that maybe there was another way to go about it. "We didn't want to give the ball back at any point back to New England after we go ahead and score that next touchdown," he explained. Riiiight, but you have to actually score that next touchdown before worrying about giving the ball back. What coach with six and a half minutes and four clock stoppages immediately -- and apparently only -- thinks “onside kick”?
- Poor Alex Smith.
- Somehow, I get the feeling that this is something he’s had to deal with this before.
- The Seattle Seahawks almost comeback was much more impressive than the Chiefs’ auto-sabotaged almost comeback. Things started out very rough for the Seahawks (cue discussions of West coast teams having to play early games). Their first half possessions looked like this: pick-six, punt, interception, punt, downs, missed field goal, which led to a 31-0 Carolina Panthers lead.
- The best part of the first half was this touching moment -- well, several moments -- shared by Greg Olsen and Richard Sherman.
- Credit to Seattle, they came back strong in the second half with 24 unanswered points. Luckily for Carolina, they built up a big enough lead that it didn’t matter that their final six possessions were five punts and a kneel down. I guess I’m glad that Seattle lost, but Carolina winning seems like a necessary evil.
- Luke Kuechly had a great game with 11 tackles and a pick-six, as well as this nice pass defense late in the game. (Why can’t any of our linebackers do that??)
- Luke Kuechly is almost impossible not to like. I think it's because he reminds me of Luke from Friday Night Lights. They even look alike!
|Best show ever, btw.|
- As he was walking off the field, Cam Newton took the time to rip a “12th Man” flag from a Seahawks fan, crumple it up, and throw it away. (Cam has a thing about signs for the opposition.) Yeah, this is why everyone hates Newton and the media’s obsession with him.
- I’m sure he got fined thousands of dollars for it, but how cool is Thomas Davis’ visor??
|Green Bay needs some of these.|
- I guess I’m cheering for Arizona because I dislike them the least of the remaining four, but if I really have to, I’ll cheer for Carolina. I’ll cheer for whomever has the best chance at beating the Patriots.
- The only thing keeping me together right now is knowing that the next time I see my Green Bay Packers suit up, Jordy will be with them.