Weekend Thoughts

NFL Playoff thoughts

Baltimore v. Tennessee
Sure, Baltimore has a great defense, but Tennessee gave that game away. Let's do a quarter by quarter breakdown of all the Titans breakdowns.
1Q: After looking good holding Baltimore to two three and outs the Titans score first and hold the Ravens to a 3rd and 18. Then defensive offsides on Vanden Bosch pushes it to 3rd and 13. No biggie, except on the next play it looks like Chris Hope is supposed to have the deep third coverage, but is late getting over and gives up the 48 yard touchdown.
2Q: Tennessee has another nice drive into Baltimore territory, but it stalls when a screen to Bo Scaife is sniffed out by Raven safety Leonhard for a five yard loss to make it 4th and 8 at the Baltimore 30. Because of the wind conditions Jeff Fisher elects to go for it and Collins fumbles the snap. 4th and 8 isn't close to guaranteed against the Ravens, but you have to give yourself a chance. The next Titans possession starts at their own one yard line and they move the ball all the way to the Baltimore 32 and face a 3rd and 8. The Ravens blitz and Collins throws up a duck that is easily intercepted. Collins is a seasoned veteran, but looked like the rookie all game when the Ravens bring more than four pass rushers. The Titans hold the Ravens to three and out and get the ball back and in seven plays are already inside the Raven 22 yard line with 36 seconds before halftime. LenDale White earns five hard yards, but doesn't protect the ball when he's in a wash of defenders and the ball pops loose and Baltimore recovers.
3Q: Both teams are playing great defense after the half, each team forcing three punts. The Titans get to the 28 yard line on one drive, but the Ravens challenge a third down catch by Scaife and the ruling is reversed forcing a 51 yard FG attempt instead of a 46 yard try. Bironas misses to the left. 51 yard FGs are not gimmes in any sense, but you have to make those in the playoffs if you want to move on.
4Q: After the Ravens take the lead with a FG, the Titans put together a ten play drive and Collins completes a pass to Alge Crumpler on 2nd and 9 from the Baltimore 13. Crumpler gains seven before he's hit and the ball goes flying forwards, recovered at the one by Baltimore. Again, the contact was coming, but the ball wasn't protected. The Titans hold the Ravens on the next drive and comeback and tie the game with a FG afterwards. When Baltimore gets the ball back, they face a 3rd and 2 on their own 32 yard line when the now infamous play clock reaches zero and no flag is thrown. The amount of leeway that NFL fans are used to allows for a split second after the play clock reaches zero to get a play off, but this was almost a full second.

The Ravens earned the victory, but Tennessee did more than enough to help them out. Both fumbles had more to do with carelessness than with defensive pressure. Joe Flacco the rookie had more pocket presence than 15+ year veteran Kerry Collins. Tennessee lost its best offensive player, Chris Johnson, for the entire second half because of an ankle injury and they got burned by an officiating blunder. What lesson can be learned from this? Don't let your team peak too early in the season. Tennessee was the last unbeaten team this year and then fell off a little, even though they ended with the best record in the NFL. They didn't "play" in week 17 and then they looked sloppy after the bye week.

Arizona @ Carolina
The surest bet around had to be Carolina -9.5 at home against the a Cardinal team that was 0-5 on the east coast this season and 2-22 in it's last twenty four games played in the eastern time zone who was missing a key cog in the offensive attack, Anquan Boldin. Carolina even came out and scored rather easily on the first drive in five plays. Unfortunately, the Panthers could not cover Larry Fitzgerald and Jake Delhomme might have had the worst playoff quarterback performance of all time. It was extra ironic for Delhomme because on Sunday NFL Countdown on ESPN, I think it was Bob Holtzman said Delhomme came into the game as third all time in playoff QB rating after Joe Montana and somebody else. Later on the same show Cris Carter repeated the stat, but didn't give Holtzman(or whoever said it originally) credit like he had come up with it himself. Delhomme had six(!) turnovers including five INTs. Delhomme had a playoff passer rating of approximately 104.5 before this game and it dropped over twenty points after this game to 83.3.

Philadelphia @ NY Giants
This game was all about the Eagles defensive line. The Giants defense played great as well, holding Westbrook to 36 yards on 18 carries and only two catches for ten yards, but the Ealges and Broderick Bunkley in particular won this game for Philly. It was windy at the Meadowlands and John Carney, who missed only two 40+ yard FGs all year, missed two in this game. The windy conditions and the Giants power run game led Tom Coughlin to go for it on fourth ans short three times, but the Giants only converted the once in the first quarter. Not counting the intentional grounding by McNabb in his own endzone for a safety, neither team had a sack this game. Two great defenses, both teams like to blitz and both are in the top ten in number of sacks this season had zero this game. The Giants had zero sacks against the Eagles in three games this year. Clap it up for the Eagles offensive line.

San Diego @ Pittsburgh
Every team that scored first this weekend ended up losing. Three of the four teams scored touchdowns first. San Diego connects on a long bomb to DUI Jackson and then force a Pittsburgh punt. After giving the ball to Darren Sproles three times the Chargers give the ball to last week's MVP, punter Mike Scifres. Unfortunately, the Charger punt coverage was hideous, with four men bunched on the left side of the field and the five others spread too far apart on the the other side of the field. Naanee had a chance to push Holmes out of bounds, but instead dove at his ankles like a punter/kicker/quarterback and Hollmes hurdled him easily. The key to this game was San Diego's inability to get pressure on Roethlisberger and the Steeler offensive line to protect Big Ben. Only one sack for the Chargers, by the safety Weddle, while the Steelers got four sacks from Woodley, Harrison and Keisel, all DL/LBs.

Despite some people panicking because the Sharks aren't leading the other NHL teams by 10+ points, they beat the Oilers and Canucks on back to back nights on the road. Now the Sharks have four home games spread out over the next week before the All Star break.

I hate this team. Not because they are losing and will continue to lose. It's because the team is symbolic of what the Warriors were just three short season ago and the previous decade before that, irrelevant with no hope for the future. Ellis is unhappy. Maggette sucks. He can get to the line, but he can't pass, at all. Bellinelli looks promising. Randolph looks promising. Wright looked promising before separating his shoulder. Will any of them flourish with the Warriors? Most likely not because Robert Rowell and Nellie mucked everything up when their egos got in the way. Warriors basketball, it's a great time out.


  1. Connor Says:

    We gotta get out to a Sharks game.