In case you haven’t heard, all indications are that Tom Brady is done for the year. Last year, the Patriots talked about playing through the adversity of Spygate, etc — but they had all their players remain reasonably intact. The rush of air you feel? The rest of the AFC East breathing a sigh of relief. While the Belichick-era Patriots are resilient, losing their superstar quarterback may be too much. The Patriots are definitely more mortal now, and the division is completely up for grabs now.
Meanwhile, I watched my Chargers and the Panthers tangle to the last second, when a Jake Delhomme miracle throw was caught by Dante Rosario for a game-winning touchdown with no time left. Incredible! I hate seeing the Chargers lose, but losing to the Panthers is the only team I can accept them losing to. The Panthers haven’t looked this good in years. Having Steve Smith out may not necessarily be a bad thing for Delhomme; he spread the ball out to everybody. Delhomme always seems to lean on Smith when he’s in the game. The playcalling was very well-balanced (though going for it on fourth-and-1 on their second drive of the game was foolish), and the defense was as strong as ever.
This game is a gut-check for the Chargers, who need to strongly rethink their policy of leaving players out completely in preseason. Everybody was shaking off rust, and the regular season just isn’t the time for that. One silver lining: Philip Rivers looks as sharp as ever. His mobility was all there — it’s uncanny considering that less than seven months ago he had his ACL reconstructed. The Chargers will bounce back and will be fine; they needed this game to get a few things in check.
Looks to be a fun and wild year ahead; I’m really glad football’s back, especially after such a dismal baseball season.
After winning a playoff game for the first time since I was 9 (a game they didn’t have to play in last year), the San Diego (Super) Chargers head to the Room Temperature FieldTurf Tundra of the RCA Dome for a rematch with Peyton Manning and the Colts. Something tells me Manning won’t throw six interceptions this time, as he did in the Colts’ loss to the Chargers at Jack Murphy Qualcomm Stadium earlier this year. The Chargers always seem to give the Colts a game, so we’ll see how they respond. However, these Colts are much healthier — Dallas Clark and Marvin Harrison are back — than the Colts the Chargers faced earlier this year. Tough odds…my brain tells me the Colts will come out on top, but my heart says the Chargers can do this. (As it should.)
Yesterday’s games marked some of the best playoff football I had ever seen. The Lambeau Snow Globe (as it’s come to be called) will go down in the highlight reels for a long time. Ryan Grant did a marvelous job shaking off a very inauspicious start to the game (two fumbles lost) to become one of the top three single game rushers with 201 yards. And Brett Favre was just Brett Favre. What a revival for his career. I haven’t seen that guy so happy to play football in a long time.
And the Patriots…wow. Tom Brady played arguably the best game for a quarterback in NFL playoff history last night. He West-Coasted the Jaguars to death, absolutely shredding their D with a steady dose of short passes and Laurence Maroney runs. In the end, I don’t see how the Patriots DON’T run the table — but that’s why we play the games…