There must be a balance in place for playoff games. Last week’s wildcard games were so lackluster that this past weekend’s divisional games had no choice but to tip the scales with some of the best playoff football one weekend has ever seen. Wow. This weekend was a fan’s dream! (Minus, of course, the Packers loss. That was clearly a nightmare.)
Game 1: Ravens at Broncos (Ravens 38, Broncos 35)
What We Learned: Never quit. The Broncos secondary quit on a late Hail Mary by Joe Flacco in the waning seconds of the game when it seemed like the Broncos had sealed the deal on a victory. The 70 yard TD tied the game…and the Broncos, with Peyton Manning at the helm, with 2 timeouts at their disposal, decided to run out the last 30 seconds on the clock and take their chances in OT. Clearly, that decision did not work in their favor. Remember all of those stats we talked about on Friday? In this game, Playoff Peyton got the better or Ravens-Beating Peyton.
What’s Next?: The Ravens move on to face the Patriots at Foxborough for a rematch of last year’s AFC Championship game.
Game 2: Packers at 49ers (Packers
24 31, 49ers 45)
What We Learned: Colin Kaepernick is good. The Packers defense is bad. As we talked about yesterday, the Packers had no answer for the option-heavy offense the Niners run, and the Niners didn’t have to answer for anything the Packers ran because they barely did anything on either side of the ball. Those last 7 points in garbage time shouldn’t count; at that point in the game everyone had given up.
What’s Next?: The 49ers will travel to Atlanta to play the newly-energized Falcons.
Game 3: Seahawks at Falcons (Seahawks 28, Falcons 30)
What We Learned: It’s not over until the last Hail Mary is thrown. This game was 20-0, Falcons, at the half. That the Seahawks were going to come back and take the lead was possible, not probable, and definitely not one of the options Falcons faithful saw as remotely plausible. But come back they did! It started with a Matt Ryan interception and continued with Russell Wilson being Russell Wilson. The Seahawks don’t go down without a fight. The Falcons tend to fold easily. But in the end, we learned that there is something different about this Falcon’s team.
They win in the playoffs.
What’s Next?: The Falcons will host the red-hot 49ers in the NFC Championship game.
Game 4: Texans at Patriots (Texans 28, Patriots 41)
What We Learned: This game was different than the last one. For one thing, it was still close at halftime – 17-13, Patriots. Last time the Patriots soundly defeated the Texans, and this time it felt more like the Texans were beating themselves. They couldn’t make the most of the opportunities presented to them by the Patriots. It’s not every day Tom Brady goes 3 and out on multiple drives. Even with their defense playing fairly well, the Texans offense had trouble scoring in the red zone and rarely capitalized on multiple Daniel Manning runbacks – who single-handedly kept the Texans in the game. It wasn’t so much of a beat-down this time, but at no point in the game did I find myself thinking that the Texans were en route to a victory. And with the victory, Tom Brady surpassed Joe Montana as the winningest quarterback in postseason history.
Not a bad day’s work.
What’s Next?: The Patriots get their yearly date with the Ravens in the postseason. But I’m not sure they’ve ever seen a Ravens team like this before.
What a weekend! I’ve gotta say, the first game set the mark for me. I think it’ll be a memorable one for quite some time. (Unlike the Packers game, which I’d just as soon forget ever happened.)
How about you guys? Which game was your favorite?