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Wild Card Sunday: Defense Stranded In The Desert

Not reviewable, so it's not a foul

After 210 NFL minutes that were relatively void of suspense, the Cardinals and Packers made up for the entire weekend with 30 minutes of AFL-like ecstasy. It wasn’t a great game, but at least it was competitive and I think that’s all we could ask for.

Cardinals vs. Packers

  • It had the most points in any NFL playoff game, but I wouldn’t jump to the conclusion that the Packers-Cardinals game was one of the best I’ve seen. It was certainly a fun game, extremely enjoyable to watch. Great games need to have quality play on both sides of the ball and defense was clearly optional in the second half. You knew a touchdown was going to be the result at the end of each possession. The only question was how long it would take to get there.
  • Of course, this game ended with a defensive touchdown, but it probably shouldn’t have. Cardinals defensive back Michael Adams forced the game-deciding fumble, but grabbed Aaron Rodgers’ face mask in doing so. A penalty should have been called, but it wasn’t (which is something you could say about four or five plays in this game). That kind of penalty can’t be reviewed for some reason.
  • The end was quite a redemption for Adams. Troy Aikman kept saying that Adams was having a “tough day.” Does Aikman know the meaning of “understatement”? Adams actually had a horrible day. He got picked on often and when passes weren’t being completed against him, he was called for three blatant holding or pass interference penalties. He was also whistled for going out of the back of the end zone as a means to leave the playing surface. That earned him a mindless illegal substitution penalty. I’ve never seen that before. I didn’t even know that rule existed! Apparently, Adams didn’t either.
  • Holy Jesus! What a shank by Neil Rackers. That was hilarious. Good thing the Cardinals won the game, or Rackers might have grabbed a seat next to Shayne Graham at the kickers-soon-to-be-cut table.
  • Charles Woodson did a nice job on Larry Fitzgerald. He scored twice, but that occurred when Woodson fell down in coverage and was then bowled over by Fitz on what should have been offensive pass interference. But as for everybody else, what happened to the Packers’ defense? It was like they didn’t bother covering anyone in between the hashes. Safety Atari Bigby left in the second half due to a hamstring injury. But I’m not sure his presence would have changed anything. The Cardinals were just unstoppable.
  • Fantasy football take-aways: I’m calling dibs on Jermichael Finley. He was a deep sleeper coming into this year. Next season, he is going to take the leap forward and I want to take advantage of it. He looks like a lighter Antonio Gates … Beanie Wells gets 14 carries, 91 yards. Tim Hightower gets seven carries, 19 yards and a short score. Hopefully that split becomes wider next season. If so, Wells could be quite a steal. … For you fantasy playoff players who selected Ryan Grant, what can you do? The Packers score 45 points, Rodgers and John Kuhn steal a couple of one-yard touchdowns and your guy accounts for just 83 total yards. What can you do?
  • Be honest: How many of you gave up on this game when the Cardinals were up 17-0 in the first quarter? I thought about it. That Kansas-Tennessee basketball game was getting good, and this was following a script we saw earlier in the day with the Ravens-Patriots — multiple turnovers being turned into early points. I figured we were just destined to have a forgettable weekend of NFL playoffs. But then, as the Cardinals were driving to definitely probably go up, 24-0, Woodson slapped the ball out of Fitzgerald’s hands, Green Bay recovered, scored a touchdown and suddenly we had a game again.

Ravens vs. Patriots

  • I just couldn’t pick against the Patriots at home in the playoffs. It follows the same line of thinking as to why I thought Florida would beat Alabama in the SEC title game, even though Alabama had the better team. I couldn’t doubt Tim Tebow in a big game. I couldn’t doubt Tom Brady in a home playoff game. Oh well.

    Turn out the lights. The party's over. They say that all good things must end

  • You could say that maybe Wes Welker’s absence affected Randy Moss’ ability to get open. Or maybe Randy Moss affected Randy Moss’ ability to get open. Either way, you couldn’t blame Julian Edelman. He did drop a couple of passes, but he still scored both touchdowns. Although, he needs work on his wrist strength.
  • Jim Nantz mistakenly referred to Wes Welker once as “Wesler.” Nice.
  • Did Joe Flacco even need a shower after this one? He threw 10 passes, but completed only four. The team said Flacco’s bruised hip didn’t influence the team’s play calls. You’ve got to believe it. The Ravens averaged five yards per over 46 carries from its running backs. Uh, I think that was the biggest factor behind the modified passing attack.
  • The result in New England was certainly stunning, but I am now picking the Ravens to go into Indianapolis and beat the Colts. I don’t trust the Colts’ defense and the Ravens have much more of that valuable entity called momentum.
  • In the other divisional round games, I am going with the Chargers over the Jets — there is an outside chance that I could possibly maybe go to that game. There’s like a 50-50 shot that I might go. Perhaps. I am taking the Saints to beat the Cardinals. The Saints, much like the Colts, have given us reason to doubt them lately. But there is nothing about that Cardinals defense that says it can slow down the Saints in New Orleans. Plus, the Saints’ defense is getting healthier. And in the game of the weekend, I am taking the red-hot Cowboys to beat the Vikings. That Vikings’ defense hasn’t been the same since losing linebacker E.J. Henderson, and I hate how Minnesota depends so much on Brett Favre. I hope the duel lives up to the endless hype we’ll hear this week.
  • By the way, I went 1-3 on my playoff picks this past weekend. The Jets were my only winner.
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  1. January 16, 2010 at 7:49 am

    My only worry with Baltimore is this: Can that team really expect to win in consecutive weeks with absolutely no passing game whatsoever? Is Flacco still so hobbled that he can’t do anything?

    I want to pick the Ravens, but every time I think about them, I realize they do not pass the ball. I think that will not work this time around.

    • January 16, 2010 at 7:50 am

      And I am going Colts, Chargers, Vikings, Cardinals.

    • spokes310
      January 16, 2010 at 8:48 am

      Understandable. It’s going to depend on who has the better first half. If the Ravens can run Rice and hold Peyton down early, I think that defense can impose its will. If the Colts get up, 10-0 or 14-0, it’s going to be extremely tough for the Ravens to win. I usually trust the team with the better running game and defense in the playoffs (Jets not withstanding this week because the Chargers are too powerful). I hate how the Colts ended their season and I think momentum means something here, which Baltimore obviously has. Also, nice stat on NFL Countdown this morning: Since 2005, top two seeds in the divisional round are 7-9.

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