Monday, January 31, 2011

Position Group Breakdowns

Here is the first of many (or probably more like 3 or 4) Super Bowl breakdowns. I'll break down each team's position groups head-to-head.

QB: Ben Roethlisberger vs Aaron Rodgers

Two of the best young QBs in the league. Aaron Rodgers grew up this year, playing better under pressure and playing better in close games. He was on fire through two games of the playoffs before fading in the second half of the NFC Championship. Rodgers has played two playoff games indoors, both on the road (obviously), and the Packers has put up 45 and 48 points. Rodgers was in a zone, but it needs to be seen if he can play great against a great defense. Roethlisberger is, how to say it, not on fire. Other than two nice throws to ice the game, he was bad in the AFC Championship. However, he can play a lot better. The Jets were on a great defensive roll, one that is even better than the Packers is on right now. Roethlisberger played great against the Ravens the week before, and he also performs better indoors. He has a track record of playing great in Steelers playoff wins (with the AFC Championship game this year and Super Bowl XL being the two exceptions). I'll go with the experience of the big-time guy, who showed last year he can play pass-for-pass with Aaron Rodgers.

Edge: Steelers

RB: Rashard Mendenhall and Co. vs James Starks and Co.

Mendenhall was easily the best player on any of the four teams playing on Championship Sunday. He broke through tons of Jets tackles, and ran through a Jets' defense that had been one of the best against the run all year. The backups don't do much, as Mendenhall is one of the last true "feature" backs in the NFL. As for the Packers, James Starks had one nice game against the Eagles, who have a mediocre rush defense. Other than that, he hasn't done much. Brandon Jackson is nice out of the backfield. However, context matters here. The Packers gave up 4.7 ypc on the season, and the Steelers have been dominant against the run. This one is easy.

Edge: Steelers

WR: Wallace, Ward, Brown, Sanders vs Jennings, Jones, Jordy and Driver

The Steelers group is very underrated. Hines Ward is running on fumes, but the other three are really good at stretching the field. Mike Wallace can run shorter routes now, which he didn't really do last year, but the other two (who have really stepped up in the playoffs) are pure burners. That works perfectly with Roethlisberger propensity to throw deep. That said, the Packers group takes this. Donald Driver is doing a Hines Ward impression right now, but those other three are this year's version of the Saints Colston, Henderson and Meachem. They are really interchangable. Jennings and Jones are extremely similar, and although Nelson is used primarily out of the slot, but has been expanding his routes more now.

Edge: Packers

TE: Heath Miller vs Andrew Quarless

The Packers struggle defending tight ends. DVOA has the Packers rated 22nd against tight ends. Heath Miller is Roethlisberger's best option. He's essentially the Steelers slot receiver, as well as an amazing blocker (he was single-blocking Jets LBs and DEs). Quarless, while filling in nicely for Jermichael Finley, is nowhere near Heath Miller, who has been everything and more since the Steelers picked him in the 1st round back in 2005. Look for Heath Miller to have a big game.

Edge: Steelers

OL: Crap-tacular Pittsburgh vs Average Packers

While I do think that Maurkice Pouncey was a tad overrated, and the running game still played well with Legursky in there, this is really a no contest. Bryan Bulaga was beaten soundly in the second half of the NFC Championship, but still they are better in pass blocking and even in run blocking than the Steelers. This was is easy.

Edge: Packers

DL: Keisel, Hampton and Hood vs Jenkins, Pickett and BJ Raji

This is extremely tough. If Aaron Smith was healthy and playing, the Steelers would take it. Evander (Ziggy) Hood is playing at a high, high level. Probably just as good as BJ Raji (but isn't getting near the credit that Raji is - much like this Steelers team in general). Brett Keisel has really stepped up, and not only with his facial growths. Casey Hampton was a monster in the AFC Championship, continually beating Nick Mangold, but hadn't had a huge game in weeks. Cullen Jenkins is about the same, playing huge in the NFC Championship after having some down weeks. Ryan Pickett is just solid, much like Mr. Keisel. As you can see, this is really, really close, and I can't go one way or the other.

Edge: Even

OLB: Woodley and Harrison vs Matthews and Walden

Clay Matthews is a really good player, against both the run and pass. He's a pass-rushing monster and is great at looping inside. That said, the Steelers have two players who are about as good as two Clay Matthews. I would put James Harrison a tad better than Matthews (more dominant against the run), and Woodley a little lower (sometimes a run liability, but great at pass rushing). Eric Walden is what makes this easy. Since replacing Zombo, Walden has done a nice job, but he is nowhere near the player that Woodley is.

Edge: Steelers

ILB: Farrior and Timmons vs Hawk and Bishop

There is a reason that the Steelers have been a linebacker factory for years. Lawrence Timmons oddly is better against the pass (he's good in coverage and great at rushing the passer) at the ILB position, but he and Farrior combine to make one of the best ILB tandems in the NFL. AJ Hawk might look like Clay Matthews, but he is not the same quality of player. Desmond Bishop has been great, and he could play a big role in helping to shut down Mendenhall, but that said, the Steelers have the best quartet of LBs in the game.

Edge: Steelers

CB: SwagU, McFadden and Big Play Willie Gay vs Woodson, Tramon Williams and Shields

For those who don't know, SwagU is Ike Taylor, who has had a monster postseason apart from slipping down on Santonio Holmes' TD. Bryant McFadden has not been the player that he was two years ago for the Steelers in 2008. If anything, that is why the Steelers defense of 2010 isn't as good as the Steelers from 2008. Their coverage is not as good. The Packers, on the other hand, have the best coverage secondary in the NFL. Surprisingly, Charles Woodson has struggled in the playoffs, but Tramon Williams and Sam Shields have been amazing. The Packers biggest advantage is here in their corners.

Edge: Packers

SS: Troy Polamalu vs Charlie Peprah

One is a future hall of famer, who despite not being at 100% and not playing up against the run as much, is still a playmaker and could break out after the extra week off. The other is an average player thrust into a starting role and despite doing well, remains one of the few liabilities on the Packers back end. Troy Polamalu hasn't been good against the run of recent weeks, but that shouldn't be as important in this game since the Steelers front seven could stop the run against the Packers with one hand tied behind their back.

Edge: Steelers

FS: Ryan Clark vs Nick Collins

Ryan Clark is a lot better than his reputation of a savage, cheap hitter (based mainly off his cheap-shot of Wes Welker two years ago). He's good in coverage, good playing the ball, and can play the run. He's a sure tackler and is a force over the middle. That said, Nick Collins is one of the more underrated FS in the game. Nick Collins is great in coverage, and although he doesn't tackle well, or play the run well, he will be critical in slowing down the deep pass of the Steelers. This isn't a huge edge, but nonetheless, it is an edge for the Pack.

Edge: Packers

ST: Sanders and Suisham vs Someone and Crosby

I don't trust either kicker. Suisham has been really good with the Steelers, but historically he is not a great kicker. Mason Crosby has never really had to hit a clutch kick in years. The Steelers return game and coverage units are actually good for once, and due to all their injuries, the Packers return and coverage units are strug-a-ling.

Edge: Steelers

Coaching: Tomlin, Arians and LeBeau vs McCarthy and Dom Capers

Bruce Arians has a good rapport with Ben Roethlisberger. As is Mike McCarthy. It is more about Capers vs LeBeau. LeBeau ironically replaced Capers as DC of the Steelers in his first go-around in Pittsburgh. Both are in a zone. Both know how to scheme defense, and are adaptable. On offense, both have good rapport with their QBs. Mike McCarthy seems more stubborn, and will keep with the running game even if it not working and is in detriment to his team. Mike Tomlin and the Steelers are a much better game manager than McCarthy and the Packers. I would give the Steelers the slightest of edges, but I think the defensive coaches, which are more important to their respective teams, is close enough to call this a draw.

Edge: Even.

The Final Count: Steelers: 7; Packers: 4; Even: 2

More stuff later on.

Top 10 "No One Believed In Us!!" Games of the 2000s - Part. 1

This is a two-part countdown of the ten biggest upsets of the 2000s in the playoffs. The games are ranked not on the actual size of the upset (based on Vegas lines), but on the factors surrounding the games. Games 10-5 are on this post.

We'll quickly go through the three games that just missed the cut:

13.) Colts 15 Ravens 6, 2006 AFC Divisional

12.) Patriots 24 Steelers 17, 2001 AFC Championship

11.) Giants 23 Packers 20, 2007 NFC Championship

Now, onto the list:

10.) Rams 24 Seahawks 20 & Vikings 31 Packers 17, 2004 NFC Wild Card

For the first time in the 2000s, there were 8-8 teams in the playoffs. The NFC was so bad that the 8-8 Rams and Vikings were actually Wild Card teams. This was the same year that all 6 AFC teams in the playoffs were at least 10-6, and the four division winners were 12-4 or better. That said, no one really thought the Rams or Packers would actually win, given their pathetic record. Both teams won, and really showed up. The Rams, who were outscored by a ridiculous 75 points, were leading throughout, but hung on to win by about five yards. The Vikings, on the other hand, brought the wood to the Packers. Brett Favre was picked off four times. Culpepper had three touchdowns, and Randy Moss gave the full moon. On back to back days, two teams that were derided by the media for being 8-8 went on the road and won. Of course, they would both be roundly throttled the following week, but they still got their "No One Believed In Us" win out of the way first.

9.) Saints 31 Rams 28, 2000 NFC Wild Card

The Saints are the only home team on the list, and they were favored in the game (by just a point). The reason why they are on the list was because despite those two facts, still it is shocking that they won the game. The Rams were the defending champs, and though their defense was horrible, their offense was even better than the year before and Kurt Warner was finally healthy again. The Saints, on the other hand, were not that great of a team, and had never won a single playoff game in their history. It didn't matter. The Saints came out red hot behind Aaron Brooks (can't believe I just wrote that sentence), and then withstood a furious Rams' rally in the 4th quarter to hold onto the win. The Superdome was rocking. It is hard to imagine the Saints being good pre-Brees, but there they were in 2000, slaying the defending champs and winning the first playoff game in franchise history. Saints fans' would have to wait until the end of the decade to finish the job though.

8.) Jets 17 Chargers 14, 2009 AFC Divisional

Before they scored their dramatic upset this year, a worse Jets team beat a hotter team coming off the bye last year. The Chargers entered the game on an 11 game winning streak. Phil Rivers was playing football better than any other QB, and the Chargers were ripe to go to their first Super Bowl (all that stood in their way was the Colts; a team they historically have played very well). Of course, the Jets were in their way as well. The Jets needed the Colts and Bengals to both rest their starters just to make the playoffs, and unimpressively beat the Bengals the previous week. The Jets entered the game as 9 point underdogs, and played like it, doing absolutely nothing for the entirety of the first half on offense. That said, they were only down 7-0 as Nate Kaeding missed two field goals. In the second half, the Jets offense finally clicked. Spurred by an amazing interception of Phil Rivers, followed by a bonehead interception of Phil Rivers, the Jets took the lead early in the fourth quarter 10-7. After yet another missed field goal by Kaeding, the Jets put the hammer down with a dramatic touchdown run by Shonn Greene. The Jets played it perfectly, capitalizing on the Chargers mistakes to win a game that they did little in. Therein lies the reason why the game is not higher: the Jets didn't play all that well. The Chargers just collapsed, which has been done before at home after the bye.

7.) Giants 21 Cowboys 17, 2007 NFC Divisional

76 points. That is what the Giants had given up to Romo and the Cowboys in two regular season games. The Giants had success scoring, putting up 55 points, but never really threatened the Cowboys. Dallas was finally supposed to end their long streak of not winning playoff games, as their 13-3 season had given them the #1 seed. The Giants struck first, but the Cowboys dominated much of the first half, calmly scoring two TDs on back-to-back 90+ yard drives. From that point on, it was all Giants. They put together a scoring drive in under a minute right before the half. Capitalized on a nice punt return to get another TD to take a 21-17 lead, and then the floodgates known as Dallas' o-line just opened. The Giants d-line started their epic postseason with two sacks and countless hurries of Romo, forcing the Cowboys into failed possessions. The Giants finished the game by picking off Romo in their end zone, escaping Dallas, a place no one thought the one time 0-2 Giants could win in. Little did they know what was up next.

6.) Seahawks 41 Saints 36, 2010 NFC Wild Card

Let's go into the way back machine.... all the way to this January. There was probably no more hated division winner than the 7-9 Seattle Seahawks. The points are valid. The Seahawks were outscored by -97 points. That was the most a playoff team has ever been outscored by. They had the 28th ranked offense by yards, and 27th ranked defense by yards. Their QBs combined for a 72.1 rating. They were just not a good team. However, they have that field, that amazing, raucous gem of a stadium. Qwest Field is the great equalizer, and that, and the fact everyone spent the week deriding the Seahawks, and complaining that they were in the playoffs in the first place, made the Seahawks in a no-lose situation. Of course, the game played out early like everyone thought, with the Saints jumping out to a 10-0 and 17-7 lead. Of course, the Seahawks decided to score 27 of the next 30 points, and build a lead they would never relinquish. It was all capped by Marshawn Lynch's amazing "Beast Mode" run, where he singlehandidly broke six tackles and stiff armed last year's Super Bowl hero Tracy Porter into 2012. When it was all said it done, the Seahawks were partying like it was 2005, with Hasselbeck threw 4 tds and the 'Hawks were unbeatable in Qwest again.

5.) Buccaneers 27 Eagles 10, 2002 NFC Championship

The Bucs had never won a game where the temperature at kickoff was less than freezing until Week 17 in the 2002 season, when the Bucs beat up Chicago in Chicago. The Bears were 4-12. The Eagles, on the other hand, were 12-4, and had beaten Tampa to a pulp earlier that year, beaten the Bucs in the previous to postseasons without giving up a TD, and had outscored their opponents 415-241 in the regular season. The Bucs had a historically good pass defense (so good that Rich Gannon's 2 td 5 int performance in the postseason was actually average, not terrible), but they could not beat the Eagles, and they could not win in the cold. It started out perfectly, as the Eagles returner ran the opening kickoff back 70 yards, and Duce Staley took the next handoff for a TD. The Bucs were shocked, but they regrouped, and the Eagles never scored a TD the rest of the game. The Bucs suffocated Donovan McNabb, and finished it off with intercepting a pass, and returning it 90 yards for a TD to make it 27-10, and forever silence Veterans Stadium, in its final game ever. The Eagles were ready for a celebration. The Eagles hired one hundred cops to prepare for a mob after the game. Not sure if the mob happened, but if it did, the fans were rioting in anger, not jubilation.

Top 10 "No One Believed In Us!!" Games of the 2000s - Part. 2

Now the last 4, which were really a category all to themselves. Odd that the Patriots show up three times. They really know how to play interesting playoff games.

4.) Jets 28 Patriots 21, 2010 AFC Divisional

45-3. Forty-Five to Three. That was the reason no one gave the Jets a chance. And why would they? The Jets did beat the Patriots 28-14 in Week 2, but that seemed like a decade ago, back when Randy Moss was still doing things in New England and Danny Woodhead was an unknown player. The Patriots were on a roll that not even their 2007 undefeated counterparts could match. They had entered the playoffs winning their last 8 games, five of them by more than 20 points, and four by at least 29. They had scored 30+ points in eight straight games. Tom Brady had gone since Week 6 without an interception. They were the most efficient offense in the NFL. The Jets entered the playoffs with a 2-3 finish, and squeaked by Indianapolis in the Wild Card round. No one gave the Jets a chance (although, ironically, they were larger underdogs the previous year against San Diego - 9 points to 8.5). No one but the Jets.

The Patriots started out strong, but could only muster a field goal in the first quarter. The Jets then took flight, scoring a TD early in the second, and following a stupid fake punt by the Patriots scored a TD to make it 14-3 right before halftime. The Gillette Stadium crowd was stunned, but the worst was still to come. Tom Brady and his offense simply looked lost. Brady felt the pressure of a fierce pass rush that was doing its best Giants in Super Bowl XLII impression. When he got time, the Jets secondary did not give anything up in one of the most inspired performances ever by a coverage unit. The Jets finally gave up a TD, and the Pats cut it to 14-11 late in the third quarter. Six plays later, and one spectacular catch later, it was 21-11 and the game was all but over. Mark Sanchez was great, and his receivers were better, but the heroes were the defense. The proud Jets defense was the butt of a million jokes after the 45-3 laugher, and Rex Ryan was personally embarrassed. He later said he watched the film of that game 20 times, and the Jets played with that similar preparation. It was an astounding performance, as the Jets were the ones embarrassing the Patriots in their home stadium (where Tom Brady hasn't lost a regular season since 2006, but has oddly lost two playoff games there since). The Jets were haunted by the memory of 45-3, but that won't comfort Patriots fans, who saw their team score less than half that.

3.) Steelers 21 Colts 18, 2005 AFC Divisional

The 2005 Indianapolis Colts were the Colts team that should have won the Super Bowl. They were the best Colts team of the decade, better than the 2009 unit that went 14-0 before resting their players. Better than the 2006 team that won the Super Bowl. They were 14-2, sure, but they were so much more than that. They scored the second most points in the NFL and gave up the second fewest, and this was AFTER they sat their starters the last two games. They set an NFL record, winning their first 13 games each by at least a touchdown. After twelve weeks they had outscored their opponents 366-162, which was a better differential than the 16-0 Pats. The Steelers were 11-5, and better yet, they were 10-3 with Ben Roethlisberger as their starting QB, but in a loaded AFC, that was good enough only for the #6 seed. The Steelers might not have even gotten by the Bengals had Kimo von Ollhoffen not have torn Carson Palmer's ACL. But here they were, in the same stadium that seven weeks earlier they had been dominated 26-7, in a game that they had put up less than 200 yards of offense and had given up an 80 yard TD on the very first play. The Steelers were 10 point underdogs, and understandably so. They were playing the best team of the decade to date. But just like the best regular team of the decade that was yet to come (we'll get to them - and you know who they are), it wasn't meant to be.

The Colts have always taken flak for losing after resting their starters, but usually even if they do lose, they start out the game good (like in 2007 where Manning hit his first 14 throws), but they were flat at the start. The Steelers took advantage of the Colts slothy start, and a surprising game plan that called for Roethlisberger to air it out, and took a 14-0 lead in the 1st quarter. The Colts were stunned, and more importantly, were flawed. The Colts did not have a great o-line, and it was never more apparent than in this game. The Steelers used a relentless pass rush to dominate the Colts o-line and pound Manning time and time again. The Colts put together a drive late in the first half to make it 14-3, but the Steelers answered with a touchdown to make it 21-3 to start the third. After a historic season, the Colts were basically done. That's when it got crazy.

Manning started his comeback by waving the punt team off the field in the third quarter, and hit Dallas Clark for a 50-yard touchdown to start the 4th. On the next drive, aided by a nice overturn of an apparent interception, Manning led another TD drive to cut it to 21-18. It was now a game, but that black spot of the Colts cropped up again as Manning was sacked on back-to-back plays to effectively end the game. That was until Gary Brackett put his hat on the ball, forced a fumble, and Nick Harper scooped it up with green ahead of him. Slowed by a bad knee (due to his wife attacking him with a knife mid-week), Harper was tackled by Ben Roethlisberger. Manning drove the Colts into field goal range, especially for the most accurate kicker in NFL history in a dome, but Mike Vanderjagt missed by about twenty yards. The Colts comeback ended short and the Steelers continued their trip to get one for the thumb. The Steelers became the first six seed to win the Super Bowl, and the Colts had to endure another offseason of what-if? The Steelers were huge underdogs because they weren't as good as the Colts. But for that one day they were.

2.) Giants 17 Patriots 14, Super Bowl XLII

What hasn't been said about this game. The Giants, despite playing the Patriots really close in Week 17 (so close that they had a rightfully earned 28-16 lead in the third quarter), were 14 point underdogs heading into Super Bowl XLII, which was more of a coronation than anything else. The Patriots, 18-0, were set to be crowned "The Greatest Team of All Time", and join the annoying 1972 Dolphins in "Perfectville". Tom Brady had just finished arguably the greatest statistical season for a QB ever, and the Patriots offense was finally back playing indoors, on perfect conditions, with a newfound running game to boot (Maroney had 112 yards in each of the first two playoff games). The Giants entered having already scored two major upsets, beating 7 point favorites Dallas (above) and 7.5 favorites Green Bay in an epic in -27 degree weather. The Giants were confident. They thought they would win (with Plaxico even predicting a score that would be eerily close to the actual one - 23-17). Sports Illustrated's Dr. Z even predicted the Giants victory in SI's Super Bowl preview, stating he had a similar feeling before Super Bowl III. That said, no one really thought the Giants had much of a chance. The Patriots, known for their ruthless efficiency, were not going to let history slip away.

Instead of the Patriots letting history slip away, the Giants took it from them. Battering Tom Brady with the most ferocious pass rush seen in Super Bowl history (set an unofficial record for QB hits in a Super Bowl), Brady and the Patriots offense were limited to 81 first half yards (for a team that got over 400 a game). The Patriots did have the hafltime lead - 7-3 - but that was more because of unfortunate ends to back-to-back Giants drives. First the Patriots got a tipped interception, then a fumble coupled with an illegal batting of the ball ended another promising drive. The Patriots, the 18-0 favorite, were even getting the breaks. The third quarter featured another sack of Tom Brady and a curious decision to go for it on 4th and 13 from their 35, but at the start of the 4th quarter, the Patriots were still ahead 7-3, and set for perfection.

The only perfection attained that night was the 4th quarter. First the Giants struck a TD with a nifty 50-yard catch and run by Kevin Boss. Then the teams traded punts before Tom Brady finally played like the Tom Brady that was supposed to own the Giants, directing a cool TD drive to take the lead 14-10 with three minutes to go. It was all there. Despite the Giants playing their hearts out on defense and holding a team that averaged 36 points to 14, they were all but done. At that moment, truly no one thought the Giants had a prayer or re-taking the lead. There had never been three lead changes in the 4th quarter of the Super Bowl before, but this was no ordinary Super Bowl. What followed is known now to all. Eli Manning escaped the clutches of various Patriots players, heaved a throw to unknown Special Teamer David Tyree, who snagged the ball with the aid of his helmet. Five plays later, Plaxico Burress caught a perfect pass from Eli Manning to take the lead with :35 left in the game. One sack later, the Giants had toppled the Pats, and surprised, shock and amazed everyone aside from Dr. Z.

1.) Patriots 20 Rams 17, Super Bowl XXXVI

There was no bigger cindarella story in the decade, or maybe since Super Bowl III. The Patriots were a team that needed a ridiculous referreeing decision plus two special teams touchdowns just to get to the Super Bowl. The Rams were a dynasty in the making. The Rams were 16-2, with a top-5 defense and, for the 3rd consecutive year, the top offense in the NFL. They set a record with their 3rd straight 500=point season (no other team has even done it twice in a row), while Kurt Warner racked up 36tds. The Rams were truly unstoppable, gaining more yards than they did in the 1999 season when they won the Super Bowl. The Patriots were a team that was outgained for the season, and had a second-year QB who was still being babied through most games. The only advantage the Patriots had was at head coach, and even then, Bill Belichick did not think the Patriots could pull it off (he was quoted as saying "Can you believe this team won the Super Bowl?" to Scott Pioli afterward). The Pats were the real David.

The Patriots won the game 3-0. The score might have said 20-17, but in all reality, it was the Rams three turnovers to the Patriots zero that won the game. The Patriots turned those turnovers into 17 points, and two of them happened when the Rams were near midfield. The Rams outgained the Pats by 160 yards. Kurt Warner went 28-44 for 365 yards. The key to the game, apart from the turnovers, was Mike Martz's insistence to not run the ball. Marshall Faulk was underutilized, and he was the player the Patriots keyed on. That said, despite playing the perfect game, the Rams tied the game in what seemed like 5 seconds to make it 17-17 with 1:21 to play. That's where a dynasty was born, but it was not the Rams, like Torry Holt was caught saying before the game started. Tom Brady, to the behest of John Madden, took the ball and dinked his way into field goal range, where Adam Vinatieri hit the first walk-off field goal in Super Bowl history. It was one of the best finishes in the Super Bowl, and it was the perfect way to cap the Super Bowl that was used as a tribute to America: with the Patriots winning.

There are many reasons for this not to be a bigger upset than Super Bowl XLII. That game featured a 10-6 Wild Card team beating an 18-0 juggernaut. This game featured an 11-5 #2 seed beating a 14-2 team that had flaws (had a lot of turnovers in the regular season). The specter of an 18-0 was huge, but it isn't enough to make it a bigger upset. No one did believe in the Giants chances to beat the Patriots (except for Dr. Z). However, the Giants totally believed that they could win. They believed they let the Pats off the hook in Week 17. Coincidentally, the Patriots and Rams played in the regular season in 2001 also, with the Rams winning 24-17. Unlike the Giants-Pats Week 17 game, that one was nowhere near as close as the score. The Rams outgained the Pats 482-230. Warner was amazing (except for a pick-6). The Rams led 24-10 before a garbage TD by New England, and the game ended with the Rams on the Pats 10 yard line, kneeling the ball instead of a late score. Unlike the Giants in 2007, the Patriots were truly lucky to even make the Super Bowl, needing a angelic overturn of a call and, again, two special teams touchdowns. Finally, the biggest reason that the Pats upset over the Rams was bigger (other than the fact that the line actually was higher for the Rams - 14.5 vs 14), was that it isn't obvious that even the Pats thought they could win the game. Bill Belichick certainly didn't think of the 2001 Patriots as a champion team, and neither did anyone. That game should not have been close, and even after Adam Vinatieri split the uprights, it was hard to fathom the Rams lost. The Rams were unbeatable. The Patriots were so beatable. But "No One Believed In" the Pats, including the Pats.

Next up in the Top-10 are the opposite games. The Top-10 "Not In Our House!!!" Games of the 2000s.

The Nole Truth

Monday, January 24, 2011

Whit-Less Idiot

Jay Cutler

Here's my little FireJoeMorgan takedown of the blubbering shit that Jason Whitlock wrote about Jay Cutler's injury-gate. Before we start, I have always liked Cutler. The narrative entering the game on Sunday was that Aaron Rodgers is the likable sympathetic figure who had to sit behind Brett Favre for years (Steve Young had to sit behind Joe Montana, and I'm pretty sure no one considers him a sympathetic figure), and Jay Cutler was a pompous ass. I'm not sure where Cutler got his reputation, although it was probably due to his on-and-off field spat with the pompous ass known as Philip Rivers. To me, this odd, unfounded excoriation of Cutler is what makes Jay Cutler the real sympathetic figure, and more so after the crazy blasting he was given for taking himself out of a game he got injured in. Anyway, let's get to the point.

Jason Whitlock is an idiot. He writes inflammatory, controversial garbage to brew up debate, but he really believes the stuff he writes. He also tries to drum up race in sports all the time, including in many theatres where it is not needed nor relevant. Let's get to my takedown of his takedown of Jay Cutler.


I don't know Jason, but please do tell? I would love to know your thoughts, considering that you have not asked him, and will base all of this on the dependency of FOX's camera crew.

Maybe now the LeBron James sycophants will quit playing the race card.

Very few LeBron James sycophants play the race card. In fact, other than you, very few people bring up the race card with LeBron. The reason LeBron is a hated vilified figure has absolutely nothing to do with race.

Maybe now they’ll accept the visceral, instantaneous and emotional rejection of their King in the aftermath of The Decision was primarily a confluence of factors that had little to do with race.

It is pretty widely accepted that it LeBron's hate has nothing to do with race.... and neither is Jay Cutler's situation. This is a horrible intro, even if a 4th grader wrote it.

Social media, our cultural, unhealthy obsession with sports and the thin line between our love and hate for spoiled, clueless millionaire athletes led to the widespread loathing of LeBron.

The same thing happened to Jay Cutler on Sunday.

Except you also will join in on the same loathing that you despise people for feeling towards LeBron? Oh., even for you Whitlock, this is shit.

In the biggest game of his career, shortly after playing 30 minutes of awful football, Cutler laid down on the Bears and the city of Chicago. Hiding behind a knee injury, he tapped out in much the same way LeBron James tapped out with an elbow injury against the Celtics during last year’s playoffs.

LeBron claimed an elbow injury for one game, and even then, they won a game after the injury news came out. Plus, LeBron never asked out, never had a real injury.

I’m sorry. I don’t need an MRI to confirm King Cutler quit.

That's because Jason Whitlock has multiple Quit-Scans. They're like CatScans, only halfway through, they give up and finish the x-ray with crayon.

FOX cameras provided all the evidence I need.

Fox. Which happens to own the website you are writing for, and also is subjectively picking what shots of the sideline to show the audience, and is probably not showing Jay Cutler in a PIP box on the screen all the time.

Cutler suffered a knee injury, not a head injury. The only reason Cutler spent the second half of the NFC Championship bundled up on the Chicago sideline looking like an aloof, uninvolved punter was because he mentally checked out.

Wouldn't "mentally check[ing] out" be kind of like a head injury? Plus, he had a knee injury, that physically took him out. I'm not sure why this is so complicated.

You do remember King James staring off into space as Mike Brown tried to coach the Cavs late in the Celtics series?

You mean when a healthy King James did not listen to his coach? Yeah, that is totally similar to Jay Cutler LISTENING to his coach and trainers and sitting out.

To their credit -- and perhaps their cowardice -- Cavaliers fans didn’t turn on their King until he hosted a rub-their-noses-in-it TV special celebrating his betrayal of his home-state team.

Imagine the reaction in Chicago if Cutler makes the slightest public-relations slip between now and when Bears’ doctors reveal Cutler may never walk again. You think LeBron is despised? Let the wrong syllable come out of Cutler’s mouth and President Obama won’t be able to rehabilitate Cutler’s reputation.

When his argument is going to hell, he does like every good Democrat, and just bring up Obama's name. That said, the reaction in Chicago has already been ridiculous before the doctors' said anything. Also, the doctors revealed that Cutler had a serious knee injury.

Despite all their strong words defending Cutler, I bet you couldn’t pay Brian Urlacher and Lovie Smith to start Cutler’s car for the next month. Cutler is the new Steve Bartman, the interfering Cubs fan.

I'm pretty sure Jay Cutler, even if he was as strong and tough and wonderful as that pillar of loyalty Ben Roethlisberger, would not ask anyone to start his car. I'm not sure why anyone would ask someone else to start their car. That said, I bet I could pay Brian Urlacher to punch Jason Whitlock in his gelatinous fat. Also, it isn't exactly a good argument when you bring up a man who's life was ruined because fans take sports too seriously.

For the record, Cutler is white and so are the overwhelming majority of Bears fans.

Amazingly irrelevant. They are also mainly from Chicago, and eat deep dish pizza, and have watched Michael Jordan literally quit on their Bulls in 1993.

Within minutes of the conclusion of Green Bay’s 21-14 victory, a picture of Chicago fans burning a Cutler jersey showed up on my Twitter feed. Fans started pointing out that Tom Brady played all season needing surgery on his foot, Willis Reed limped through Game 7 of the NBA Finals with a torn muscle in his thigh, Ronnie Lott cut off a piece of his finger to play, etc.

Willis Reed does not play a sport where 11 big, strong men are trying to hit him hard. Also, I'm pretty sure that you can play with a part of your finger missing. That is not a comparable injury. And finally, it is good that you bring up Tom Brady. In the 2001 AFC Championship, Tom Brady did leave the game, with a knee injury. I'm pretty sure Ty Law and Tedy Bruschi and Bill Belichick did start his car during the next month.

Fans were irate.

Worse was the reaction of Cutler’s NFL peers. Current and former players trashed Cutler on Twitter and on TV.

Because the opinion of a select few of his peers (not all peers, like his former enemy Philip Rivers who defended him) matters so much? I guess you think that Maurice Jones-Drew and Darnell Dockett personally pay Cutler his signing bonus??

The backlash against Cutler overshadowed the Packers’ victory and drove discussion all Monday.

I am pretty sure it did not overshadow the Packers' victory. And the only reason it might are because of idiots like you trying to create a controversy instead of accept the logical answer that Cutler got hurt.

Football is the ultimate gladiator sport. It’s a PED sport. Right or wrong, the culture dictates that you inject yourself with whatever is necessary to play. You gut it out on a bad knee, hope that you do no further damage and deal with the consequences the next day and for the rest of your life.

Yes, that is why Aaron Rodgers missed a game, when his team was not even assured of a playoff spot, with a concussion. That is why Markuice Pouncey left the game later the same day as Jay Cutler. That is why Anquan Boldin, who Whitlock adores, missed a playoff game in each of the previous postseason. No one ever misses games. EVER.

My right knee hurts as I’m writing this. I played my last season at Ball State with a torn ACL. My 160-pound roommate played most of the season with a serious neck injury. Yeah, we were naive, stupid and probably exploited.

So, how does this make Jay Cutler playing with a Grade II sprain (3-4 week recovery time) a good idea. The fact that you are still feeling affects of a ACL injury is exactly why it is not smart for injured guys to play. Also, it means you should lose some weight. That knee can't support everything forever. By the way, if that is true, your roommate was an idiot, and you most certainly were/are naive and stupid.

I’d do it again. And knowing what I know now, I’d probably come back and play my fifth year. If they gave me a $50 million contract and Todd Collins was my backup, you’d have to fight me to get me off the field in the NFC Championship.

The fact that his backup is Todd Collins shouldn't matter. Phil Rivers, before he, gasp, played the AFC Championship on a torn ACL, he asked out of a playoff game and left it in the hands of Billy Volek.

Deion Sanders roasted Cutler on the NFL Network. Michael Irvin sang in Deion’s choir.

Yeah, because the opinions of a cornerback who notoriously shied away from any contact, and a wide receiver who snorted more coke than Rick James really should be taken seriously.

Cutler’s defenders miss the point. No one is really questioning Cutler’s toughness. We know he took a beating this season behind a leaky offensive line.

No. You are questioning his toughness. Questioning his inability to play with a partially torn/sprained (they mean the same thing in this case) MCL is exactly questioning his toughness.

We’re questioning Cutler’s love of the game. A quarterback, a leader, has to love the game.

I think the fact that he has given his life to this game, playing on teams that were not that good for years, getting the shit sacked out of him and getting back up, and only missing one game in his career due to injury, means that he loves the game.

On Sunday, Cutler carried himself like someone who plays football primarily because he was born with the gift and the job pays well. It turned us off. It upset us.

It upset you. It upset a lot of people that he wasn't "tough" enough. You're the only one who has his panties in his bunch about his will to play football. Plus, why would he suddenly find this lack of will? Wouldn't that have happened when he was being mercillesly beaten by the Giants, getting sacked every time he dropped back? No? He would wait until the NFC Championship, in a game he had only been sacked twice in?

No matter your football resume -- high school hero, college scrub, retired Super Bowl champion -- if you love the game, you would’ve given anything to be in Cutler’s shoes on Sunday. And you believe you would’ve handled the situation differently.

No, I wouldn't. Just like Phil Rivers (2007 AFC Divisional), and Tom Brady (2001 AFC Title), and Colt McCoy (2009 National Championship), and Rich Gannon (2000 AFC Title), and Donovan McNabb (2003 NFC Title), and Chris Johnson (2008 AFC Divisional), Jay Cutler listened to his team doctors, and when told he couldn't continue playing, he stopped playing.

It’s that exact same belief -- not race -- that drove you to loathe LeBron.

I loathe LeBron because he chose the easy way out. He abondoned the team that loved him, the city that loved him to play second-fiddle in another city. Cutler did not do that at all. If he had a Grade II sprain, he didn't even have a choice to make.

Article taken from

Stand Up For History

Did you hear? There is a lot of history surrounding the two Super Bowl teams. The Steelers, with their rings and towels, and steroid abuse in the Steel Curtain days. The Packers, with their Lombardi, and Lambeau Field and Diary. Anyway, after what seemed like the exact same game played out twice (team dominates first half, somehow the game stays close until the 4th quarter).

Players of the Week - BJ Raji/Cullen Jenkins

They comprise the defensive unit that usually does not get much love on the Packers. Yet, they were the most impressive of the day. BJ Raji and Cullen Jenkins applied constant pressure on all three Bears quarterbacks. They stuffed the run. They forced QBs into mistakes, and BJ Raji bailed out the Packers offense that was totally stagnant in the second half. BJ Raji perfectly executed his drop into the zone to pick of Hanie and get the winning score for the Packers. Cullen Jenkins was an absolute monster throughout the game. He was blatantly held on what should have been a safety early on. Cullen Jenkins and BJ Raji should be able to dominate the Steelers, especially if Pouncey doesn't play.

Goat of the Week - Lovie Smith

I didn't mind his first punt, passing up a 52 yard field goal and it was downed inside the 5. The next one, which was punted from the 31 and went into the end zone: that was too much. Lovie Smith's defense had no answer early for that same deep in play to Greg Jennings (not sure why the Packers didn't just use that route ten more times). Lovie also botched the QB situation. He should have asked Cutler to get into street clothes or whatever. He should have waited till the 4th quarter to bring in Caleb Hanie so if Hanie sucked, he could have switched back. Not a great day for Lovie Smith, who, though he deserves one anyway, was

Surprise of the Week - Rashard Mendenhall

Against a pass defense that was on an amazing hot streak, the Steelers needed their running game to step up. Mendenhall not only did that, but he abused the 3rd ranked rush defense. Why it was a surprise was because Mendenhall had not put up 100 yards since Week 11 against Buffalo and had only three 100-yard games all year. Of course, he got over 100 yards in the first half alone. He exhibited amazing patience, waiting for holes to develop. He was impossible to tackle on first contact. Mendenhall played inspired football, and with the ability of the Packers pass defense, the Steelers might need more of that later come Super Bowl Sunday.

Disappointment of the Week - Aaron Rodgers' Immortality

I guess it is hard to stay amazing in the playoffs. There is nothing wrong with Aaron Rodgers having a statistically bad game. It happens to every QB. Luckily for him his team won the game anyway, and he gets a Super Bowl in a dome, but after the first drive, Rodgers was not good. Other than that deep in to Greg Jennings and Jordy Nelson, which was a great zone beater, Rodgers struggled. He struggled when the Bears went to man. His second pick was what really allowed the Bears to get back into the game, taking points off the board for the Packers. There is some say that he sustained a minor concussion after the helmet-to-helmet hit by Peppers, and that is why his accuracy went to shit late in the game, but even then, he could not put the Bears away with any third down conversions. Sadly for Aaron, the defense he faces only gets better.

Team Performance of the Week - Bears After Caleb Hanie Came In

Down 14-0, with the third string QB playing, most teams would have laid down. The Bears did the opposite. Every player upped his game. Peppers and the rest of the d-line started getting good pressure. The defense totally stuffed the run. Matt Forte ran like Mendenhall. The receivers started making plays. Caleb Hanie looked good because the Bears really raised their game, and good to them. They did not quit when Cutler got hurt, and it takes a great team to not. Brian Urlacher's defense played inspired football for a whole half, limiting the Packers to 110 yards in the second half, and the offense came really close to somehow forcing OT.

Team Letdown of the Week - Jets' Run Defense

Third ranked run defense? Against a team that was obviously going to run? That was awful. Rex Ryan should have just talked smack again, because his team was totally flat. The Steelers just smashed the Jets run defense in the mouth in the first half. It got better in the second half, but the damage was already done. I thought the Steelers could move the ball, but not that well in a confined period of time.

Story That Will Be Beaten Into the Ground the Next Two Weeks - Two Great QBs

This is a real storyline, but after their respective performances on Championship Sunday, they aren't exactly "hot" QBs going into the Super Bowl. Aaron Rodgers can become 2010's version of Drew Brees, version 2009. Ben Roethlisberger can join Tom Brady in the 3-Super Bowl club (amazingly, he's the only other guy with three - Bradshaw and Montana both have four). However, QBs don't "win" games, teams do. Ben Roethlisberger might own two Super Bowl rings, but he was abhorrent in the first one. Rings are not how QBs should be judged. Yesterday proved that well. Aaron Rodgers was outplayed by Caleb Hanie. Ben Roethlisberger was vastly outplayed by Mark Sanchez. Rodgers and Roethlisberger won. Sanchez had a whale of a second half against a tough defense on the road, and he's now a loser who can't win the big one (despite a very good track record in the playoffs).

Story That Should be Beaten Into the Ground - New Dynasties

The Steelers have a chance to win three Super Bowls in six years. That is dynasty status. The Steelers also have a pretty young team (Roethlisberger is only 28). They draft well, scout well and that defense is continually changing parts and staying great. The only problem with the case to make the Steelers a dynasty is that they aren't consistently great (the three non-Super Bowl seasons had two years where they missed the playoffs). The Packers also have a good stable of young players, and a good defense that churns out great players. The Packers have the ability to start a new dynasty, and rule the NFC along with the likes of Atlanta and such. These are special organizations right now, and should set up for a great Super Bowl.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Championship Sunday Picks

Just a couple more knocks and laughs at the Pats before we start breaking down Sunday's two big games.

1.) The Patriots become the first team ever to lose at home after going 8-0 at home in the regular season in back to back seasons.

2.) The Patriots become the first team ever to have a scoring differential over 200 and not win a single playoff game.

3.) Bill Belichick becomes just the second coach ever to have two 14+ win seasons that did not end in a Super Bowl title. George Seifert is the other one.

4.) Tom Brady becomes just the second QB ever to have two 14+ win seasons that did not end in a Super Bowl title. Peyton Manning (sad face) is the other one.

Now, on to the Title Games.

NFC Championship

Green Bay Packers (-3) @ Chicago Bears

State of the Teams: The Packers are easily the first 6-seed ever to be favored in a conference title game. Hell, even the 2008 Eagles were underdogs in Arizona (against a Cards team they beat 48-21). The Packers did indeed split with Chicago, including losing the only meaningful game they played against the Bears (I actually wrote about that game). The media seems to not care about that, because Aaron Rodgers had a great game in a dome against a mediocre defense. The Packers have found a nice running game in James Starks, but the best runner on Saturday was again Aaron Rodgers. The Packers defense was fast and got a ton of pressure against what was a good o-line.

The Bears, on the other hand, won convincingly in a game that was definitely closer than the 35-24 score shows. It was really 35-10 before the Bears went all prevent. They got great pressure on Hasselbeck, even though the Matthew has a tremendously quick release. Cutler himself had the nice YPA day that he normally does, exposing the Seahawks secondary, in the snow no less. The Bears absolutely shut down the Hawks running game, one that was good the week before. Hester was only given two true chances to return a punt, and one return went to midfield.

The Game: The matchups favor Chicago. Rodgers is playing out of his mind (more on that later), but he has struggled in his career against Chicago, with a 91.1 rating over the past two years (which compared to his QB rating against everyone else is struggling). Cutler has struggled as well against Green Bay in 2009, but played great against them with Denver, and had two good enough games this year. The real advantage comes with the Bears defense against Green Bay's offense. The Bears D first has great familiarity with the Packers. They also play them extremely well. The Tampa-2 Bears totally took out the run this year (3.2 ypc). They forced Rodgers into short passes, as they tackle well enough to limit the YAC numbers of the Packers. The Packers should also be able to contain the Bears offense, but in the game that mattered, the Bears were able to move the ball. The Bears also have a great edge on special teams, which matters. In big playoff games, teams for whatever reason get the guts to kick to Devin Hester. Hester already has returned a kick for a TD.

The Pick: I'm picking the Bears to cover and win. It boggles my mind that the Bears are underdogs at home, considering they have a better seed, were really impressive last week and have beaten the Packers in their only meaningful game against them (and held them to 10 points in a game that meant nothing to the Bears and everything for the Packers). Aaron Rodgers has been amazing (48-63 for 546 yards with 6 tds and no picks for a 133.4 rating). Yes he has. But that means nothing in the upcoming game. The NFL is a week to week league. Players can be hot and drop off immediately. Just to show this, here are one Peyton Manning's numbers in his first two playoff games in 2003 (including one in 13-3 Kansas City): 44-56 for 681 yards and 8 tds and no picks for a 156.9 rating (that's almost perfect for two straight games). Those numbers, amazingly enough, blow Rodgers' out of the water, which is hard to do. Manning's numbers the next game: 23-47 for 237 yards and 1 td and 4 picks in a loss in snowy New England, a team he struggled against and a team with a bad field. Almost a totally analogous situation here. Bears take it in a sloppy game.

Packers 17 Bears 23 (CHI)

AFC Championship

New York Jets @ Pittsburgh Steelers (-3.5)

The State of the Teams:
The Jets enter the game on an obvious high. Their won over the Patriots was legendary and huge. Their zone defense stuffed the middle of the field, and due to New England's inability to get deep, they had nothing. The Jets crushed New England's defense, running down their throat, and Mark Sanchez played fine, but his wide receivers were amazing. Santonio Holmes' TD catch was one of the best catches I have seen ever. It was a ridiculous play, and the Jets receivers have been doing that all playoffs long.

The Steelers defense has never been better. Don't be fooled by the 24 points. 7 of those came via a defensive TD, and two others were due to short fields (one was a so-so pass interference). The Steelers held the Ravens, who came in averaging 150 yards rushing over the last two months, to 35 yards rushing (on 18 carries). They held the Ravens to a hilarious 126 yards on 53 plays. Ben Roethlisberger was his usual playoff self. Not totally accurate, but made huge plays when he had to. He had two td passes, including a sweet throw to Hines Ward. His throw to Antonio Brown was great as well. Both teams enter into the game playing well.

The Game: The matchups favor both defenses (amazing, huh?). The Steelers should be able to swallow the Jets running game, and the Jets should do the same. However, this is a bigger deal for the Jets, who have relied on the running game in both playoff wins. There is no way the could have beated Indy without the running game (Sanchez was average at best in that game), and the Jets will need him to step up. Luckily for him, the Steelers pass defense is not nearly as good as its run defense. Santonio Holmes and Braylon Edwards are good enough to make hay of Ike Taylor/Bryan McFadden/Willie Gay. The Jets pass defense is good, but it needs to blitz Ben more. The problem is that Ben won't be a sitting duck like Brady. He will hold onto the ball (something Brady did), but won't be as easy to get down, and if he runs, he can throw better on the move. Roethlisberger also has the receivers to go deep on New York, which is possible. The Jets also have the advantage on special teams with Brad Smith expected to play. The Steelers are better than they normally are on kick coverage and kick returns, so it is not the huge advantage that the Bears have over the Packers.

The Pick: I'm picking the Steelers, maybe by a lot. Actually, I doubt the Steelers will score enough to make it a real blowout, but they should bottle the Jets totally. Mark Sanchez, when forced to throw in the playoffs, has not had good results. It only happened once, last year in Indy, but when Shonn Greene left the game and the run game went away, Sanchez struggled at the Jets failed to score a point in the second half. The Steelers have a historically good rush defense. I don't see their run game doing anything on Sunday, and all the pressure will be on Sanchez against a pass rush that was at its normal best on Sunday.

Jets 13 Steelers 24 (PIT)

Friday, January 21, 2011

It Is Never As Easy As It Seems

How happy was I when the Pats lost? I was about as happy as one could possibly be the week after their team goes down, but not for the obvious reason. No, it was because that game hit home, and for once, the Pats have to suffer the fate of one-and-done after a bye. The Colts went through it in 2005 and 2007, losing after the bye to an inferior team that they had beaten in the regular season. The Colts had to suffer the humiliation of losing at home on divisional weekend. That is why the 20-3 beating of Baltimore last year felt so good, and so did this game.

The Pats fans always point to the 2005 and 2007 losses when discrediting Manning. "How could you lose at home after a bye?" Well... it is never as easy as it seems. Pats fans finally have to face those same facts. They have had dissappointments in the playoffs before, but never like this. This is worse than losing Super Bowl XLII, a game they went down fighting, when the offense didn't shy away and their defense played well enough to win. That game was a horrible performance, but at least the Pats made it to the Super Bowl. Last year, the Pats did go one-and-done, but they were not a great team, and they were absolutely not winning the Super Bowl last year, even if they beat Baltimore. This was it. This was the year that Brady would add to his legend (something he did by his regular season). This was the year that the new dynasty would start. This was the year the Pats would win the Super Bowl in a "rebuilding year." None of that happened, in the best way possible.

The Pats fans laughed at the plight of the 2006 Chargers, who went 14-2 and flamed out in their first playoff game. Or the 2008 Giants, or 2008 Titans, or 2009 Chargers, or 2007 Colts and Cowboys, or 2005 Colts; all of those teams lost after the bye at home. The Pats never did that. The Pats never rested their starters (didn't again, this year), and never came out flat after the week off. That is all gone.

The Pats from 2001-2004 were something special. 9-0 on the playoffs, three Super Bowl Titles, the Patriots had one of the greatest runs in NFL history. They were flawless in the playoffs, mostly because of their defense, and sometimes due to the mistake-free play of QB Tom Brady (especially in the 2003 Super Bowl which was the real turning point in his career, despite his 5-0 playoff record before that game). The Patriots from 2005-2010 are now 5-5 in the playoffs, which is totally normal. The Pats in 2005-2010 are a normal team, a normal franchise, and it hurts, doesn't it? The Pats have suffered all the type of losses the Colts have. The Pats have had last minute crushing losses in the past six postseasons, just like the Colts did against the Steelers or just last week against the Jets. They have suffered the blowout on the road, just like the Colts did against the Pats. They have suffered an embarrasing loss that ended a season that wasn't all that good alltogether. And now, the Pats have suffered the loss at home after the bye, the worst of them all.

The game was actually similar to the Colts loss to the Steelers for 2.5 quarters. The Steelers were lucky not to be down 10-0 early, and then took off, jumping up 21-3. The Jets did the same thing, going up 14-3, capitalizing on the mistakes and laziness and slopiness of the Pats early. The difference though, is that The Colts fought back with the intensity that only they do, with after being down 21-3 in the fourth quarter, coming within one missed field goal from getting the game to overtime. It wasn't only Manning and the offense coming to life. It was the defense, forcing punts from the Steelers, and getting the fumble. The Pats just don't have that fight. Never had. Tom Brady list of comebacks of more than 10 points is not that big. His largest playoff comeback happened in his first career game. Since then, his largest playoff deficit in a game the Pats have won is..... 11 (down 14-3 against SD in 2006). The largest second half deficit the Pats have faced in a playoff game they won is....... 8 (down 21-13 in that same SD game). Taking the 2006 San Diego game out of the conversation (a game that resembled the 2001-2004 Pats more than the 2005-2010 Pats), the largest deficits become 7 for the first half (down 7-0 and 14-7 against Jacksonville in 2007) and the largest second half deficit is 1. Tom Brady just does not have huge comebacks, and usually, his teams don't come close. Some fault of that is the defense not getting stops either, but that is a big difference between Manning and Brady.

Overall, the Pats 2010 season is a failure. It is a failure to lose in the divisional round at home (the Colts in 2005 were a failure. With the injuries they suffered in 2007, they weren't any better than the Chargers, but they were still a failure). It is more of a failure to lose to a team you had beat 45-3 seven weeks earlier (another similarity to the 2005 Colts, who beat Pittsburgh 26-7 in a game that wasn't that close, holding the Steelers to less than 200 yards). It is more of a failure to lose to a team that you despise and has been talking shit the week PRIOR to the game. This should be the end to any "You should never speak ill of the Pats, since they will kill you for it" statements. No team should be worried to ruffle the feathers of the Pats anymore, and no analyst should pick the Pats because another team slighted them. The Pats are no different than any other franchise in the league, because the Pats from 2001-2004 is not as easy to replicate as it seems.

Welcome Back.... And Other Stuff

Yes, that's right, I just took essentially six weeks off. First, had finals, then had a trip to India. Tough times for the blog, but good times for me. I will be back to writing at the same rate I did before, and I probably will do more than I did last NFL offseason.

Anyway, championship preview coming up later, plus a whole new set of Pats-Hate!!!!!

About Me

I am a man who will go by the moniker dmstorm22, or StormyD, but not really StormyD. I'll talk about sports, mainly football, sometimes TV, sometimes other random things, sometimes even bring out some lists (a lot, lot, lot of lists). Enjoy.