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 09, 2006

NFL Wild-Card Weekend in Review

Wait for it... wait for it... big shame on you goes out to the wild card participants for some thoroughly disappointing games this past weekend. We had some teams seriously mail it in, leaving us watching poor football for three hours at a time. None of the teams showcased anything that would make me believe they will win this coming weekend.
Couple of key facts about playoff football stood out...

1. You need a quarterback. Why did the Giants lose? Eli Manning. Why did the Bucs lose? Chris Simms. The list goes on. A good quarterback who is in control is huge in the playoffs.

2. You need turnovers. Every team that won had turnovers. Washington won only because of the turnovers. Especially on the road, turnovers are the only surefire way to take the crowd out of it.

3. You need a defense that can get a stop on third down. Pittsburgh beat Cincinnati by always making their third down conversion. The Giants couldn't get a third down to save their lives.

When you look at that list you understand why the Hawks kept on losing. We have had a habit of crushing turnovers and spotty defense (although Hasselbeck has always been strong, Alex Bannister failure notwithstanding). That's also what we do not have this year.

On to the recaps!

Washington 17, Tampa Bay 10
Big Games 20, Chris Simms 0.
At some point you have to feel for the guy, but he just cannot get over the hump to save his life. It's not like his play was inspired. He was so gun shy about throwing interceptions that every throw was to a checkdown receiver, which made the job easier for the banged up Washington secondary. He didn't take advantage of the loss of Sean Taylor to go over the middle. He played it too safe so his numbers look okay, but the point total doesn't. This brings up a good point... the Sunday Night Football team celebrated their last game together by completing blowing every play. They are awful and should be put down. Anyways, they kept on praising Simms and Cadillac Williams every time they breathed. At the end of the game, that amazing tandem put up 10 points at home in a playoff game. That would be 10 points at home in a playoff game. That is pathetic. Williams had a key fumble. Simms threw the ball directly into the hands of opposing tackles. As Colin said when he called me afterwards, that was the Tampa Bay team we thought they had at the beginning of the season. Gruden couldn't cover for them anymore. It wasn't like Washington looked all that strong. Everyone is injured, including Clinton Portis. They won with a record low total of yards. Mark Brunell didn't make great decisions and is too hobbled to be mobile. Because of their ineffectiveness, Tampa had multiple chances to get back in the game. You have to feel for that wide receiver, but it was an incompletion. He did not have control of the ball when he came down in the end zone. What's really sad is this was the best game of the weekend.

Jacksonville 3, New England 28
Let's all say this together, Jacksonville was the worst 12-4 team in history. Hands down. You cannot hear all that "no respect" talk and then come out with that performance on both sides of the ball. You were annhilated in a game that should have been over by halftime. You were gifted the worst half of football New England has played in the playoffs during this magical run and could do nothing. Your wide receivers, especially leader Jimmy Smith, dropped at least 6 passes (3 by Smith). Your offensive line couldn't block for squat. Apparently New England was better than Tennessee, Houston, and San Francisco, your last few opponents. I'm not a huge Jack Del Rio fan. He should have had his team more ready than that. As for the Patriots, it was ugly, but it was a win. As Michael Smith writes on ESPN.com, it could have been worse if not for that insane Ben Watson touchdown run. But I was just feeling as the minutes ticked by and Jacksonville didn't take advantage of multiple opportunities that any second the Patriots were going to go off. Great teams always do. Now the Patriots are in the best game of the second round, going into Denver. Man, I can't wait.

Carolina 23, NY Giants 0
I watched all of this abomination. The Giants were the second team (Jacksonville being the first) that totally mailed it in. Specifically, Eli Manning's shoddy completion percentage finally caught up to him. I blame this one a little on the coaching. If you follow this site (sorry) you can see below where both Colin and I said that for the Giants to win, Tiki Barber needed 30 touches. He had 13 carries. 13 carries? That is ridiculous. That means the Giants abandoned the run far too early in the game. The Panthers defense played alright, but Eli refused to take risks and force the Panthers to make plays. (That's another key to the offensive efforts... you can play it safe, but the defenses are too good to let you do that all the way down the field) His accuracy was awful, and before the first half was over the Giants looked like a beaten football team, yelling on the sidelines. Tom Coughlin should get credit for taking the Giants this far, but he lost them this past week. As for the Panthers, they looked like the best team all wildcard weekend. The running game was there (although we should mention that the Giants were at the "play Kaczyvenski level" of injuries at linebacker), Steve Smith got his touchdown, and the defense was dominating. Kudos should go to the offensive coordinator for his conscious effort to get Smith involved early and often with those wide receiver screens. He realized that in the playoffs you need your playmakers to make plays. Sounds pretty cliche, but it's what we saw.

Pittsburgh 31, Cincinnati 17
For all intents and purposes, this game was over the moment Carson Palmer went down. Still, the Bengals gave up 31 points in a playoff game, which is absurd, especially to a challenged team like the Steelers. When people go down, you have to step up. Rudi Johnson disappeared, forcing Jon Kitna to throw on every down. The wide receivers couldn't get separation and Kitna just doesn't have the touch to throw deep. I loved Pittsburgh's game plan, saving Jerome Bettis until the second half, when the defense was tired and he simply destroyed them. I don't know if they can wait that long against Indy... the Colts have too much speed to let Willie Parker have the outside. The Steelers also need to show they can deal with noise, as they had more problems with false starts in this game. I didn't see enough from the Pitt defense also to think they can handle Peyton Manning and friends. If Palmer had been in, thirty points would have been an easy target for the Bengals. Ike Taylor and DeShea Townsend looked lost for much of the first half. All that to say... not a great game.

Gavin was 2-2 this past weekend (should get a mulligan for the Cincinnati pick). Colin was 1-3.

posted by Gavin @ 1:50 PM  0 comments

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