Sunday, January 17, 2010

NFL Playoffs: the Good, the Bad and the Cowboys


I always enjoy the quick thoughts from the various Sports Illustrated columnists on the ongoings of the weekend football games. After watching a good bit of three of the four games, I figured I'd try to throw out some of my own:

Arizona Cardinals, 14 – New Orleans Saints, 45
• The Cardinals just didn't have the same execution from the week before when they lit up the Packers, but they did bring the same defense that was in turn lit up by the Packers. And then the Saints just took the invitation and Drew Brees had a pleasant warm-up for the next round.
• Say goodbye to Kurt Warner. After that brutal hit he took and all the concussions he's had in his career, he'll probably call it quits and keep what's left of the brain cells.
• Nice to see Reggie Bush actually prove himself a contributor to the Saints prolific offense (if only to watch his ultra-talented girlfriend Kim Kardashian celebrate). I was starting to think that every big name offensive player to come out of the Pete Carroll USC era was destined for flopdom (see Leinert, Matt; Palmer, Carson; Jarrett, Dwayne).

Baltimore Ravens, 3 – Indianapolis Colts, 20
• This was the one of four games that I didn't watch much of mainly because I never gave the Ravens a chance. Peyton Manning simply had too much riding on this game to allow his team to be shown up by one driven offensively by absolutely-average Joe Flacco.
• Peyton Manning needed this win. If he would have had yet another early elimination from the playoffs, forget the record 4 MVP awards, the guy would be a choker in my mind. If you want to be a premiere quarterback, one of the ones who goes down in history as one of the best, you NEED to deliver in the playoffs.

Dallas Cowboys, 3 – Minnesota Vikings, 34
• The Favre and Vikings domination aside, the main story that stuck in my mind from this game was the late-game bitching by the Cowboys. Come on now, try being a bit of a professional. This isn't peewee's where everyone is a winner and you're trying to learn lessons about life. These guys make a heap of money to play football, a game children can play, mind you. I don't believe in going easy or letting up. If you can pound and embarrass a team – especially one led by the George Steinbrenner of the NFL, Jerry Jones – it should happen. "Hey, Keith Brooking, don't complain to the Vikings coaching staff just because your defense was pitiful!"
• Back to Favre and that Vikings offense: remember when the offense was dink & dump passes and give the ball to Adrian Peterson? When the goal was for Brett Favre to take a Sanchezian or Flacconian approach and just not cause too many turnovers? Well, now he's back to doing what he does best, driving the offense as the gunslinger that he is, with a wee bit more of a calculated approach. The guy is 40, has been in the playoffs nearly every year, and just set a career high for TDs in a playoff game. Incredible.
• What happened to Adrian Peterson?
• That Vikings defensive line is ferocious. There isn't a single weak link. Six sacks on the night.
• I guess they don't teach objectivity at the NFL school for broadcasting. Both Troy Aikman and Joe Buck were all but begging for the Cowboys to win this game. At least Aikman has that he used to play for them, but Buck and his goofy haircut and vanilla delivery had no excuse.
• Tony Romo gets too much credit. The guy is not a premiere quarterback, deal with it Fox.
• Brett Favre's postgame celebration was so not him acting his age.

N.Y. Jets, 17 – San Diego Chargers, 14
• It's always nice to see Chargers Nation weep. There is no bigger bandwagon franchise than the Chargers. I would have to say Chargers fans give Oakland Raiders fans serious competition for being the most obnoxious.
• Nate Kaeding is the most un-clutch kicker I've ever seen in the NFL. "Hey Nate, you're paid millions to do one thing, kick the ball between posts. And you went 0-for-3. Imagine if anyone in any other profession was as ineffective in their position as you are? You know what, they'd get fired. Here's hoping upper management gives you and Norv Turner pink slips by Monday morning."
• Mark Sanchez, way not to blow it. You've saved yourself from the NY media feeding frenzy for at least a week. But though they may anoint you the second-coming of Broadway Joe today, they'll be quick to throw you to the beggars and thieves after a loss to the Colts next week. Just ask Eli Manning about it.
• After two weekends of football, there's no doubt that Darrelle Revis deserved the Defensive Player of the Year award over Charles Woodson. Revis shut down Chad Ochocinco and Vincent Jackson in back-to-back games, whereas Woodson just got lit up by Kurt Warner and overpowered by Larry Fitzgerald.
• Is Rex Ryan the second-coming of the Joe Namath guarantee?

Photo taken from NYTimes.com. Photo by Larry. W. Smith/European Pressphoto Agency.