Crushed Optimists

We are twin brothers who grew up in Central Washington. This blog is devoted to the life of Seattle sports fans, as well as various other topics that we will espouse for your enjoyment. We could be called another OFFICIAL SEATTLE SEAHAWKS site, but we'll take our uneducated crack at the Mariners, Sonics, and Huskies as well. A Seattle Sports Blog? Must be the land... of crushed optimism!

Monday, January 16, 2006

NFL Divisional Playoffs in Review

What a weekend! Game after incredible game! Let's get right on to the recaps...

Denver 27, New England 13
First, some love for the Patriots. Congrats on a magical run. Also, you were totally screwed by that "pass interference" call on Asante Samuel in the end zone. That was one of many ridiculous calls during the weekend. Still, seriously, you have no one to blame for this game but yourselves. Denver could not move the ball worth anything. They needed two one yard touchdown drives. Let's think about this... two one yard touchdown drives equal 14 points equals margin of victory. But you "champions" get on giving up the football. Kevin Faulk chokes on a huge drive. Tom Brady with the ultimate choke on that pass into the end zone (a pass, by the way, that Matt Hasselbeck never makes). Even Troy Brown and Adam Vinatieri get in the fun. It got to the point that I called the missed field goal. It just felt like it was going to happen. So no one can write that "the better team won" like some misguided writer out there. One team made mistake after mistake. It was just that Denver could actually capitalize on those mistakes while Jacksonville could not. Now the Patriots go into an offseason wondering if Corey Dillon is ever going to be healthy and if their wide receivers can hold on to the damn ball. Interesting fun at Patriot-land. As for the Broncos, you will need a significantly better offensive performance to beat the Steelers. Jake Plummer might not have lost it for you, but he sure looked scared trying to win it.

Indianapolis 18, Pittsburgh 21
What in the world happened to Indy's offense? It was a shadow of it's glorious self, and you cannot blame it all on Pittsburgh's effectiveness. This was an offensive line that didn't yield sacks, and Manning got bashed. This was a quarterback who prides himself on blitz recognition and most of the time (like on those two late Joey Porter blitzes) he was clueless. This was an offense that prides itself on being open and finding players, and when a receiver was open Manning often missed him. I just do not know what to think. Where was Edgerrin James? They went away from him early and often. As for the Steelers, Ben Roethlisberger won this game in the first half with his arm. I don't really agree with the nothing-but-run approach of the second half. I think that conservative play calling almost lost them that game, leaving the door open for quick strike drives from Manning. The Steelers exposed the Colts for what they were (and for what I wrote they were multiple times this season)... a good team that parlayed an incredibly easy opening schedule and a lot of great breaks into being overrated. The defense was better but not great. Where the heck was Dwight Freeney when Roethlisberger dropped back? For Pittsburgh, they did a terrific job rattling Peyton. They didn't sit back and play passive like in their last meeting. It was vintage Steeler football. I love Troy Polamalu. There's a Defensive Player of the Year award in that man's future. That was an interception, by the way. I don't know how the ref makes that call. Also, that was pass interference on that deep ball to Antwaan Randle El in the first half (21-0 at that point and ballgame). I think the refs were spooked by the phantom call against NE. No one to blame but Jerome Bettis for that fumble. Inexcusable. Wrap up the ball with both hands, Jerome. You know better. Big Ben deserves a medal for that twisting tackle. It was like watching a play in slow motion. I saw Ben out there, was screaming for him to tackle, and saw him make just the right adjustment. Obviously if he doesn't make that play, ballgame. What a terrific game. Another offseason we get to hear about Manning Choke Jobs. Now we get to hear about both of them.

Chicago 21, Carolina 29
Let's first look at this the way we should have been this morning. The headline: Grossman does just enough, offense looks sharp in 21-13 victory. That's how this game should have gone down. Seriously, if you asked most people (including Colin) before this game who would win if Chicago scored 21, 9 out of 10 would have said the Bears. That's because the vaunted Carolina defense made Grossman and Thomas Jones almost look good at times, and made Bertrand Berrian look like the second coming of Jerry Rice. It's difficult to respect a defensive performance like that, although many writers of varying intelligences are today. To me, the Bears shouldn't have been in the end zone twice. They don't have that kind of talent unless it was short fields (did I mention those three drives weren't?). But we're not seeing the above headline. Why is that? Because Chicago (and famed defensive coordinator Ron Rivera) played cocky. For some reason they felt they were above doubling Steve Smith and paid for it. How else do you explain the long touchdowns? Yes, the cornerback fell down, but there was no safety support! On the last Washington play from scrimmage last week, we won because Michael Boulware was assigned to be over the top on Santana Moss. The Bears weren't watching. Then Smith goes around on a reverse and the Bears don't cover their gaps. It was an abysmal defensive performance. Yes, Jake Delhomme played well. He moved away from pressure well and is going to be quite the matchup problem next week for the Hawks. The offensive line was almost dominant, opening holes for whatever back was in the backfield and giving Steve Smith enough time to head downfield. John Fox outcoached Lovie Smith. This was still a vaguely unsatisfying game... Chicago fans deserved better.

Can't wait to see what happens this weekend! Six days and counting!

posted by Gavin @ 3:17 PM  0 comments

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