I think we can all agree Wild Card Weekend lived up to it's name. It was a weekend. We also got to watch 3 1/2 great games, which was good news for me but bad news for my wife. However, the best news was that we got to see a little bit of pride restored to the NFC West. As a 49er fan, I can make fun of the Seahawks, as can Cardinals and Rams fans. But how dare anyone from outside the NFC West make fun of them. It's like a sibling you hate. You can call them names and maybe even occasionally get in a fight with them, but the minute someone else does something bad to them, well that's just crossing the line. Besides, the win means they'll drop down to 25 in the draft and we can still watch them get smacked around next week in Chicago.
Saints 36, Seahawks 41
Last week I called the Seahawks craptastic (yes, it's a real word). So was I wrong? Hardly. The NFL's 27th ranked defense did exactly what it was supposed to do. They gave up 36 points. It was their offense, a unit that had scored under 20 points in 9 games this season, that decided puting the ball in the endzone wasn't such a bad thing. But that can be attributed to the 35 year old Matt Hasselbeck, who finished the year with a QB rating almost 10 points lower than Alex Smith, playing his best game in almost 2 years. He finished with 4 touchdowns, 272 yards, and a QB rating of 113. Turns out, all he had to do in order to play like he did when he was in his prime was offer the devil his soul. Not a bad deal considering he wasn't using it.
The Seahawks also had a RB go over 100 yards in a game for the first time all season. Marshawn Lynch ran for 131 yards, with over half of those yards coming on one highlight reel 67 yard TD run late in the 4th to put the game away. Now the Seahawks are off to Chicago to play the Bears, and the Bears become the first team in NFL history to have two bye weeks in the playoffs.
These teams are complete opposites of each other. One relies on great play from their QB while the other relies on their QB not screwing it up for the rest of them. LaDainian Tomlinson and Shonn Greene combined to rush for 152 yards and 2 touchdowns, the Jets defense held Peyton Manning to only 225 yards passing, and Mark Sanchez limited his turnovers to only 1. But it almost wasn't enough. Adam Vinatieri kicked a 50 yard FG to give the Colts the lead while further cementing his place in history as the kicker with the hardest last name to spell. Too bad the Colts left 53 seconds on the clock. Antonio Cromartie took the following kickoff 47 yards and 5 plays later Nick Folk's 32 yard FG was sailing through the uprights to give the Jets the 1 point win.
"It was a Herculean effort," said Jets coach Rex Ryan. "I mean really, I'm just thankful for the men I coach. Thankful for the two backs we got, that pounded it in there (no jokes please). Thankful for that coaching staff. Thankful for Nick Folk, and I'm thankful that I finally got to beat Peyton Manning." I can't help but notice someone wasn't mentioned. How sad is it for Sanchez when Ryan thanks the kicker and mentions the other teams QB but doesn't mention his name? Also, a Herculean effort? You beat a team with 18 guys on the injured reserve. Tell me how you feel after playing the Patriots next week. As a side note. Any chance Rodger Goodell will change the playoff rules so it allows two teams to lose the same game so that neither advances?
Early on in this game, the cameras showed a Chiefs fan in the stands holding a Raven with a noose around it's neck. I believe that's what's called ironic. To get an idea about just how much of a beatdown the Chiefs took, just look at the two starting QB's stat lines. The Ravens Joe Flacco completed 25 of 34 passes for 265 yards, 2 touchdowns, and a 115.4 QB rating. The Chiefs Matt Cassel completed only 9 of 18 passes for 70 yards, 3 interceptions, and a 20.4 QB rating. The Chiefs also lost 2 fumbles. About the only thing more painful to watch was that scene in American History X when Edward Norton's character curb stomps that guy's head.
It was the 7th straight playoff loss for the Chiefs who, at 3-12, have the second worse playoff record of any team since the merger. Only the 1-9 Lions (no surprise there) are worse. Trivia time. Who was the last Chiefs QB to win a playoff game? I'll give you a hint. He actually won 2 games in 1993 and he wore the number 19 because his world was turned upside down.
As for the Ravens, they're now set to take on the Steelers, which is what everyone really wanted to see anyways except for the Chiefs fans and who cares what they want. It also sets up the winner to play the winner of the Patriots/Jets game. Let's see. The Jets have an obnoxious coach, the Patriots have a cheating coach, the Steelers have a QB who's an accused raper, and the Ravens have a LB that makes really crappy Old Spice commercials. I think I'm going to vote for the bad commercials.
The stage was set. With just under 2 minutes, the feel good redemption story of the year, Michael Vick, had the ball and a chance to pull off the come from behind victory. Starting at the 34, thanks to a bonehead holding penalty away from the ball during the punt, Vick drove the Eagles all the way down to the Packers 27. Then something strange happened. On frist and 10 with 33 seconds remaining, Vick threw an interception. Maybe the ghost of dead dogs past made him think the receiver was open.
It was the Packers first playoff victory since Brett "did you get my text" Favre left town, which is appropriate considering he's now probably officially retired. Until he comes back. Aaron Rodgers was solid, throwing for 180 yards and 3 touchdowns, but it was rookie RB James Starks and his 123 yards on the ground that drove the Packers offense. It was also the most rushing yards in a playoff game for a rookie in Packers history. "Hard work does pay off," Starks said. "I'm a firm believer in that." What a stupid belief. Get rich quick schemes, 5 minute work out machines, and pills that help you lose weight while you eat your ding-dong are the real way to go.