Move over Monday Morning Quarterbacks, OPRAH’S ON! That’s right, the NFL Divisional Playoffs went bonkers with one top seed totally choking, the other top seed nearly choking, a legend causing history repeat to itself, a legend who won’t go away, etc, etc, etc. But clearly the biggest news today is Lance Armstrong’s interview with Oprah.
OK, so that’s a
slight huge exaggeration, but I am interested to hear if he comes completely clean like others in sports including Tiger Woods, Michael Vick, Marion Jones, Pete Rose, Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Rafael Palmeiro, A-Rod, ok, forget them. Perhaps he will admit to his wrongdoing like our elected officials including Bill Clinton, Rod Blagojevich, Anthony Weiner, um, never mind. Let’s just see if he can stare into Oprah’s eyes and tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.
CHEERS for the Matts of the Atlanta Falcons. QB Ryan led his team to a big lead with three touchdown passes, then made two clutch throws in the last 31 seconds to set up a chance to win. K Bryant finished the job, drilling a 49-yard field goal on his second try, providing the winning points in a heartstopping 30-28 victory against the Seattle Seahawks. Since I’m celebrating the Matts, I also have to mention P Bosher, the holder on Bryant’s kick.
CHEERS for Falcons TE Tony Gonzalez, who was finally on the winning side of a postseason game. The future Hall of Famer has played 16 seasons but never had a chance to celebrate a playoff win. His reaction was to break down in tears. “I’ve never cried after a win,” said Gonzalez, who has stated repeatedly that he’s “95 percent” sure this is his final year. “I was thinking, `Here we go again. I guess it wasn’t meant to be.” As it turns out, it was meant to be.
CHEERS for Seahawks QB Russell Wilson, nearly pulling off the miraculous comeback. Down 27-7 in the 4th quarter, Wilson led three touchdown drives to put his team ahead, only to be outdone by the Matts’ heroics. In fact, had the Seahawks won, it would’ve been the all-time greatest 4th quarter comeback in NFL playoff history. Instead, it was just a remarkable display by a rookie quarterback.
BOOS to Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll, calling a timeout before Bryant attempted the field goal the first time. Bryant missed but had the chance to do it again. Statistics show attempting to “ice” the kicker actually helps improve their percentage of makes. But Carroll did it anyway. (It appeared Carroll was arguing about the timeout when Bryant missed. It turns out he was complaining about Bryant going through with the kick after the timeout was called, which supposedly the officials said they wouldn’t allow.)
CHEERS for New England Patriots RB Shane Vereen, who scored three touchdowns in the Pats 41-28 drubbing of the Houston Texans. His first two were easy runs and catches, but the third one was impressive. He hauled in QB Tom Brady’s perfect, over-the-shoulder throw for a 33-yard touchdown that sealed the game early in the 4th quarter.
BOOS to Texans head coach Gary Kubiak, who had his team huddling up after every play when it was down 38-20 in the 4th quarter. Needing three scores, the drive started with 9:58 left and ended with 5:11 left, making it virtually impossible for the Texans to win without attempting and recovering two onside kicks. Shockingly, they didn’t.
CHEERS for San Francisco 49ers QB Colin Kaepernick, justifying head coach Jim Harbaugh’s faith in him in the 49ers 45-31 destruction of the Green Bay Packers. Kaepernick racked up 444 total yards and four touchdowns, leading the 49ers offense to its biggest yardage total (579) in franchise playoff history. Perhaps the most amazing part is he gained 178 of his QB-record 181 rushing yards without being touched by a single Green Bay player, including his 20-yard and 56-yard TD runs.
BOOS to the Green Bay Packers defense, which allowed Colin Kaepernick to run untouched for 178 yards, including 20-yard and 56-yard touchdowns. Yes, I just repeated myself. I’m that amazed by it.
CHEERS for the Baltimore Ravens extending the career of LB Ray Lewis with their improbable 38-35 win in double overtime. It took some spectacular blunders by the Denver Broncos (we’ll get to them in a second), but the bottom line is the Ravens advanced so Lewis will play at least one more game. Baltimore should’ve beaten the Patriots in last year’s AFC Title Game. This year, they will.
BOOS to Denver Broncos S Raheem Moore, who completely misplayed Ravens QB Joe Flacco’s desperation heave, allowing Ravens WR Jacoby Jones to catch the tying touchdown with 31 seconds left. I’m not sure how an NFL team can have a defensive back that can’t judge a football in the air. I would assume that’s something they would scout before drafting a player to play that position.
BOOS to Broncos head coach John Fox, who decided to kneel on the football and just let the final 31 seconds of regulation run off the clock, instead of trying to get in position for a game-winning field goal. Your quarterback is Peyton Manning. You play in Denver, where the ball travels farther because of the high altitude. You have two timeouts. You can do a lot in 31 seconds. Just ask the Falcons. Actually, don’t bother them. They have another game to play this week. You don’t!
BOOS to Broncos QB Manning the Peyton for pulling a Brett Favre. In the NFC Title Game in 2010, Brett Favre rolled right and tried to throw back across his body and was intercepted, dooming the Minnesota Vikings chance to reach the Super Bowl. On Saturday, Manning rolled right and tried to throw back across his body and was intercepted, dooming the Broncos chance to reach the Super Bowl. Manning knows not to do that and even commented on it earlier in the year when he made a similar play and threw a touchdown pass to WR Brandon Stokley (at 1:27 of the video).
BOOS to Notre Dame LB Manti Te’O's father Brian, who took exception to a headline and a photo in the Honolulu Star-Advertiser and decided to blacklist the newspaper. That’s right, showing a picture of his son not making a tackle (which happened frequently during the BCS Title Game) under the headline ‘Bowled Over’ is too much for Brian Te’O. Too bad this didn’t happen with the New York tabloids, I would’ve loved to have seen their response.
BOOS to a BCS Computer that still ranked Notre Dame ahead of Alabama even after the demolition in the championship game. It’s true. The Colley Matrix poll had Notre Dame#1 and Alabama #2 after the Crimson Tide proved on the field it was far superior to the Fighting Irish. My favorite part is that on the Colley Matrix’ website, it gives a general description of the methodology used and finishes by saying, “…the scheme produces common sense results.” I beg to differ!
THERE IT IS!