Monday, January 9, 2012
Sportaholic NFL Wild-card Weekend Review
Wild-card weekend usually lives up to its name as it can be unpredictable on so many levels. It’s the weekend when hot teams meet consistent teams and they clash on the field to see which team comes out on top. Upstarts like Detroit, Houston, and Denver crashed the playoff party and looked to navigate their first playoff appearances in years (Houston’s first time at all) against heavily favored competition. This year’s collection of games was no different other than the fact that all top four seeds are in intact for both the AFC and NFC.
Houston Texans 31 Cincinnati Bengals 10 - Cincinnati was done in by a few rookie mistakes by rookie QB Andy Dalton, a healthy dose of Arian Foster and the Texans new found smothering defense. The Texans were able to generate enough offense with their own rookie QB T.J Yates as he connected with stud WR Andre Johnson for a 40-yard TD and they were able to rely on Foster and RB Ben Tate the rest of the way. Foster finished with 154 yards and 2 Tds. Dalton wasn’t great in his first playoff appearance throwing 3 interceptions including one that was a spectacular play for J.J Watt as he took it to the house for the score. Houston will take on Baltimore next week in a rematch from week 6.
What they said after the game: You can see that they were all so proud of their team,” Houston owner Bob McNair said of the team’s long-suffering fans. “We want to have a team everybody can be proud of and want to feel an attachment to. I think they have that.”
Andre Johnson on finally getting a playoff win: “This is something not just for me, but for the whole organization,” the Texans star receiver said. “It’s a very special feeling. That’s probably the most I’ve smiled in a long time.”
“We have to get beyond this,” Bengals coach Marvin Lewis said. “We play in a very difficult division. We have to win games in the division, that is important and it sets up opportunities like this, all the time.”
What they said after the game: “We were pulling out all the stops,” Brees said. “We play aggressive. We’re not going to apologize for that. That gives guys in the huddle a lot of confidence. We’re not going to pull the reins back. It’s pedal to the metal.”
All-pro receiver Calvin Johnson on the Lions season: We did make the playoffs this year and that’s a great accomplishment,” Johnson said. “We have some things to work on and we will. We know what we have to do to make the next step.”
New York Giants 24 Atlanta 2 - The New York football Giants put on a defensive showcase as they repeatedly stopped the Atlanta Falcons on 4th down and never let them get into the game. The Giants can go all the way to the Super Bowl if they continue to come with it on D like they did Saturday. The Giants stifled the Falcons offensive attack all day and looked like the Giants of yesteryear with Ahmad Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs running the ball well. Hakeem Nicks 72-yard TD pass from Eli Manning broke the game open and the Falcons never really threatened from there. Atlanta again was done in by its inability to make any explosive passing plays and by three of ill-fated fourth down decisions. Matt Ryan failed to convert on a couple of 4th down QB sneaks and Michael Turner was also stopped on another down. Ryan’s numbers of 24/41 for 199 yards just isn’t going to cut it in the playoffs. This ends yet another disappointing season for them. As for the Giants they travel to Green Bay next week to take on the Super Bowl favorite Packers and their sterling 15-1 record. We will find out if this Giants performance was for real or just a one week thing. I’m excited about this match up.
What they said after the game: We are going to out there and give all our effort and we are going to walk away with a win,” All Pro defensive end Jason Pierre Paul said
We can’t lose like this in the playoffs,” defensive end John Abraham said. “We should have been able to do something different. We played well in the beginning, but it kind of got away from us in the end.”
’We know they are a good team,” said Manning, who completed 23 of 32 for 277 yards. “We played them tough here, did some good things here, we scored some points. We know offensively we are going to have to play strong, score some points.”
Denver Broncos 29 Pittsburgh Steelers 23 - And the best game of the weekend was the last game as Tim Tebow found yet another way to win a close game. He found a streaking Demairyus Thomas for the game winning 80-yard pass against the Pittsburgh Steelers. You couldn’t have scripted it better than that for Tebow as he actually showed that he can be a threat with arm and his legs. He only completed 10 passes but he threw for 316 yards in the process. A week after Bronco great and current President John Elway told Tebow to “Pull the trigger” the Steelers looked down right surprised that Tebow and the Broncos were so openly passing on them and made a few big plays. Maybe it was not having leading tackler Ryan Clark not there due to his Sickle Cell trait or maybe the Steelers just didn’t think Tebow would have the audacity to open it up on them like he did. Whatever the case may be they allowed Thomas to slide behind the defense on a play action fake that even fooled all-pro safety Troy Polamalu and the rest is history now. Ben Roethelisberger looked like a shell of himself in the first half before he got things rolling in the second. It did appear that the ankle injury did hamper the usual Big Ben scrambles that we are so accustomed to seeing. Pittsburgh came out flat before waking up only to have their heart taking out in overtime. This game will go down as one of the all time greats because of Tebow and because its was against the mighty Pittsburgh Steelers. What a game, what an ending and what a opening playoff game for Tebow. The Broncos now get a second crack at Tom Brady and the Patriots and have a lot of momentum rolling into this one.
What they said after the game: Tebow on game winning pass: “When I saw him scoring, first of all, I just thought, `Thank you, Lord,”’ Tebow said. “Then, I was running pretty fast, chasing him—like I can catch up to D.T! Then I just jumped into the stands, first time I’ve done that. That was fun.”
“We were moving it and we had a shot,” Roethlisberger said. “Someone got, it felt like a finger, on the ball and knocked it out. After that, you’re trying to throw a 70-yard Hail Mary and that’s hard.”
Broncos RB Willis McGahee on Tebow critics: “Case closed,” McGahee said. “They say he couldn’t throw. They said we wouldn’t be able to run the ball on them. We did that. I wonder what they’re going to say next week