For those of you that were trapped in a cave all weekend here is a quick Heckler recap of what happened during the 2nd round of the divisional playoffs.
Colts beat the Ravens 20-3. It was 3-3 at the end of the first quarter, but after that Indianapolis just outclassed the Ravens. The Colts closed the half by scoring a TD with 0:03 left on the clock. They went into the locker room with a 17-3 lead. That was the ballgame folks. Stover added a FG in the 4th but basically the Colts won the game in the 1st half.
Saints beat the Cardinals 45-14. The score doesn't show you how much the Saints dominated this game. The Cardinals took the first play of the game and went 69 yards for a TD. I definitely thought we were going to see another Ravens v. Patriots. Wow, I was dead wrong. After that 1 play, the Saints just crushed the Cardinals. First of all the Saints answered that "1 play and a cloud of dust" with a 10+ play TD drive. They followed that up with 2 more TDs after 2 solid defensive stands. The Saints ended the 1st quarter with a 21-7 lead. I thought the Cards still had a chance when they scored a 4 yd TD to pull within 1 score (21-14). The Saints reeled off 24 unanswered points to seal the deal. The last TD being a dazzling 83 yd punt return by Reggie Bush. Yet once again the game was over at halftime (35-14).
Vikings beat the Cowboys 34-3. The score was 7-3 Vikings until about halfway through the 2nd quarter. That is when the Vikings stepped on the gas and left the Cowboys in their wake. Final score was 34-3 because the Vikings decided to run a play-action pass from the 25 yard line on 4th and 3 with 1:26 left in the game. Talk about sticking it to a team. Once again game over at halftime.
Jets beat the Chargers 17-14. This game is a tale of 3 things. 1) Nate Keading missed 3 FGs in a game for the first time in his career. 2) The Chargers running game couldn't relieve the pressure for the Chargers passing game. 3) Antonio Gates only had 8 receptions. The Jets were down 7-0 at the half. It should have been like 10-0. They were only down 7-3 at the end of the 3rd. It should have been 10-3 (the 2nd miss FG was 57 yards so it's understandable). Yet the Chargers found themselves down 17-7 in the 4th quarter. They march down the field and go for a FG with, I want to say, 6+ minutes left. Nate Keading misses his 3rd of the game. The Chargers get a meaningless TD near the end (I say meaningless because they didn't get the onside. Then they couldn't stop them on 4th and 2.) and lose 17-14. Only game of the weekend that was in doubt all the way to the end.
So here is what I learned over the weekend:
Colts v. Ravens
The Colts have one of the most underrated defenses left in the playoffs. They are small, but they are quick to the ball and smart in their assignments. The Ravens never got to do what they wanted to do because the Colts made the Ravens pass the ball. They dared Joe Flacco to beat them. He could not. Which brings me to the 2nd thing I learn in this game. Joe Flacco may not be the guy to lead the Ravens to the Super Bowl.
Saints v. Cardinals
I believe we just witnessed the coming out party for a one Mr. Reggie Bush. He ran hard and in between the tackles. He ran over poor Cardinals secondary members with a bruising style that we have not seen before. He ran inspired. It was as if he realized something, "oh wait, I am Reggie Bush." He also had a electrifying 83 yard punt return. Ladies and Gentlemen..........Reggie Bush. Next year NFL defenses may have another dimension to worry about. Also as we were witnessing the coming out party for Reggie Bush, I believe that we are witnessing the end of a "Hall of Great" career. That is right I said it. Kurt Warner is NOT a Hall of Famer. He belongs in the Rams (and Cardinals) hall of great former players, but he doesn't belong in the Hall of Fame. I sort of agree with the Colin Cowheard idea of any Hall of Fame. Not everyone is good enough to get in. I mean I am sure Kurt will get in because he has thrown for 100 TDs with 2 different teams. He did lead the Rams and the Cardinals to the Super Bowl. He does have the MVPs. He also has a 5 year span where he wasn't good enough to out duel Marc Bulger, Eli Manning and Matt Lienart. I don't know if I can get behind someone for the HOF with those 5 years lingering in his career.
Vikings v. Cowboys
First I learned that the Vikings read the press clippings. Otherwise they wouldn't have gone for it on 4th and 3 in the 4th quarter with a 24 point lead with only 1:26 left in the game. Brett Favre isn't too old, but he may be the demise of the Vikings. Friends tell me that Favre WILL retire if he wins the Super Bowl. Why? His ego is huge, you don't think he is going to want to win back-to-back just like Elway? Anyway. Brett just may make Adrian Peterson feel like the Vikings forgot that he can run the ball. I know, I know, there is no way the Vikings ignore AP to that extreme. Well folks AP hasn't rushed for 100+ yards in like 6 games (including the playoff game.) The Vikes need to win this year, or else they may be the next team to implode next year. The Cowboys....well...I am just wondering how much longer Wade Phillips can keep fooling Jerry Jones. Other than that, they didn't show me anything I already didn't know: Overrated, flashy team that cannot beat a good team in a game where it matters.
Jets v. Chargers
I learned that the AFC better get REALLY worried. The Jets just served notice to the league this year. Sure they backed their way in. Sure the Colts and the Bengals gave them a playoff spot. Well the Jets took that gift and are now in the AFC Championshp Game againts the Colts. Whether they win or not may not matter. The Jets may never look back from here on out. The Chargers. Wow. It always surprises me when the Chargrs go 12-4, 13-3, 14-2 and exit after one game of the playoffs. Yet it shouldn't. As much credit as the Jets get, the Chargers are the BEST at beating themselves and keeping the other team in the game til the end. They just cannot step back away from the moment. They seem to always get swallowed up by the moment. Looks like Marty Schottenheimer wasn't the problem, eh?
It should be a great AFC and NFC Championship Game. I am personally rooting for Jets v. Vikings at this point. I want to see how much of the coverage will be about Brett Favre and not about the 2 teams in the game.
In reality, I think the Super Bowl will be Colts v. Saints.