Despite the untimely elimination of both the Carolina Panthers and San Diego (Super) Chargers from the playoffs last weekend, I would be remiss if I didn’t talk about today’s conference championship matchups. For the NFC, we’ve got the Philadelphia Eagles traveling to Arizona to play — yes — the Arizona Cardinals. In the AFC, the Baltimore Ravens visit the Pittsburgh Steelers at the Ketchup Tundra. I’m going to attempt to analyze the games, but I have to tell you: almost nothing has gone to plan this postseason. (Except, of course, the whole “Chargers-don’t-have-a-chance-against-the-Steelers” meme.) Call this a shot in the dark.
This weekend marks the second round of the NFL playoffs. I’ve got a lot of personal pride and fandom running on this weekend (no money, though) as the Chargers and Panthers both play. Here’s hoping they’re not conspiring to make this weekend one gigantic heart attack. (Perhaps I should have rented a defibrillator for this weekend.) Without further ado, here’s what I think of the games. (Yes, I’m paying more attention to the teams that I’m rooting for — this isn’t supposed to be unbiased sports journalism, after all. :) )
So the Chargers just capped a comeback from 17 down to beat the Broncos 35-24 in Denver, claiming sole possession of first place in the AFC West. LT had four touchdowns, and it was the first time an NFL team had come back from 17 down to win in two straight games. Very impressive. I would feel a lot better about this game had Igor Olshansky not lost his damn mind and thrown a left and right hook on Tom Nalen on the Broncos’ last drive of the game. This helped move the Broncos up to the 50 yard line and put them in serious striking distance. Then, Drayton Florence incurred a defensive delay of game penalty by not letting Rod Smith get up. So, here we are: 1st and 5 for the Broncos with 20 something seconds left. I’m sitting in my chair IMming profanities to Ale and Chris, clearly dismayed over the situation. Then, like a flash of light from $deity, Shaun Phillips chases down Jake Plummer, gets the sack, and Plummer coughs it up. The Broncos, in yet another epic moment of scatterbrained lunacy, recover the fumble in-bounds. Had the ball gone out of bounds, they would’ve been back far, sure, but had another shot. Instead, the clock runs out, and the Chargers win. Whew. Congrats once again to LaDainian Tomlinson. He’ll obliterate the touchdown record and a lot more this year, I think. What a great player and — most importantly — a great guy. Rest assured the Tomlinson jersey is making an appearance on the CofC campus tomorrow.
This was a great win for San Diego, especially considering the Colts lost for the first time this year to Tony Romo and the Cowboys, bringing the Chargers within a game of the #1 seed in the AFC…not baaaad. :) (Speaking of Romo, have you seen Drew Bledsoe’s Blog? TOO hilarious!)
The Panthers defense pulled out a perfecto today, blanking the St. Louis Rams’ vaunted offense 15-0. Carolina’s offense was wildly inconsistent as per usual. DeShaun Foster left the game with an injury (it was only a matter of time). DeAngelo Williams ran for 114 yards and is making a serious case to be the featured back in Carolina. Steve Smith had a touchdown. Ho, hum. Haha. I can’t say enough about this defense, though, giving Marc Bulger one hell of a day. The Rams are done, especially without Orlando Pace. With New Orleans being torched by the Bengals today and the Falcons losing their fourth straight, the Panthers suddenly find themselves with a slight advantage in the NFC South (they have the head-to-head advantage over New Orleans having beaten the Saints earlier this year).
This was a terrible weekend for injuries (and Ale’s fantasy teams) as Donovan McNabb tore his right ACL, ending his season, and Brett Favre has a nerve problem in his elbow, which could threaten his consecutive starts streak. LaMont Jordan’s also done for the Raiders as he tore his MCL as well.
More great blogs tomorrow, including a fantastic Word 2007 feature and praise for more oldschool Ryan Farish.