North of the 400

North of Toronto, South of a championship

Raw post: Notes from a wild wild-card weekend

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Texans / Bengals

  • I spent most of this game working my day job, so only some sporadic notes:
  • Dalton picked off and it’s returned for a score by JJ Watt. Everybody on twitter makes stupid puns like WATT A CATCH and WATT IS POWERED UP and I open a bottle of Russian Standard, prepared to drink myself into oblivion.
  • Tom Hammond is doing the play by play for this game, I keep wishing his brother Daryl was in the booth too
  • The game starts pretty cool, both sides trading blows. The Bengals actually look good and are moving around on the Texans, but miss a couple field goals. As the second quarter winds down, the Bengals look like crap; by game’s end, they’re smelling like it too.
  • Dalton is a young QB, he plays like a rookie. He makes occasional nice plays but for the most part, he looks lost. Also he’s a ginger, but isn’t inspiring a bunch of lame jokes on twitter, for which I’m eternally thankful.
  • Houston, though, looks really good, especially on defence. I find this surprising, since I always think of the Texans as a team that scores a shitload of points and allows almost as many. They made good stops, though, and kicked into high gear in the second half.
  • Game theme:


Detroit / New Orleans

  • Detroit takes it in early in the first, looks good.
  • Brees first play is a huge pass for like 35 yards. They move upfield but fumble. It’d be really cool if the Saints fall apart in another opening-round game
  • Cris Collinsworth is impressed by Stafford’s game calling, overlooks the presence of an offensive coordinator
  • Deep into the second quarter, New Orleans still hasn’t punted.
  • Good call, after review at end of second. Colston made a good try, but it wasn’t a catch. But it wasn’t a penalty either; a pretty weak call. Detroit makes a good stop and holds the Saints to a field goal after a first and goal at the six-yard-line
  • Pierre Thomas has had a couple of solid runs. Brees comes out throwing deep on Detroit; Meachem drops a sure TD, then Henderson catches and runs one in from 41 yards out. The Saints came out firing.
  • The Lions are playing a cool kind of defence where they don’t tackle
  • Brees to Colston, for 40 yards. Another huge catch, yet another deep pass on the Lions defence, and a play later it’s a 10-point lead
  • Stafford chucking it, too. Throws a high, arcing pass to Calvin Johnson, who has to slow down to catch it; a 42-yard gain, sticks ‘em right by the goal line. On third and goal, Stafford makes a risky move: fake handoff (complete with a jumping RB) as he rolls out and runs to end zone, diving and sticking the ball out ahead of him. Refs call it a TD, gets reviewed and held up.
  • “today this lions team means so much to detroit” cris collinsworth, a modern day heraclitus
  • People are going to mention Brees passing for mega-yards, but Pierre Thomas having a great game on the ground, too. He’s busting tackles all over.
  • Another huge pass, this time to Meachem for a 56 yard, walk-in score. Detroit’s defence is non-existent.
  • Detroit’s down huge, midway thru 4th, and its looking bad. Stafford could – will? – throw for 400 yards and still lose this game; detroit’s going to allow like 600. Still, Calvin Johnson catches his 12th pass, this time for a score, and it’s 28-38 Saints.
  • This is the better game of the two, but it’s not been a tremendous game, either.
  • Brees just chucks it downfield again to Meachem. Feels like a routine, or a game of techmo bowl where you just constantly use a play with a fly route. Also Dadboner’s twitter is going crazy which is nice
  • The Saints just blowing away the Lions in the second half. What did they find out at halftime? That Detroit’s secondary doesn’t know how to tackle? They’ve scored 35 points in the second half. Their defence makes a token play, picking off Stafford with about three minutes left, and it’s basically over
  • “Unable to match points with Drew Brees tonight,” says Cris
  • New Orleans doesn’t punt all game; every second half possession ends in a TD – except the last one, when they ran out the clock deep in Detroit’s end; if they wanted to score, I bet they could have.


Atlanta /  New York Giants

  • Joe Buck and Troy calling this game; does that make it America’s Game of the Week of the Century??
  • Just noticed that Eli’s captain patch is all lit up, like he’s caught 100 rings and in Super Saijin Mode or w/e
  • A few minutes into the first and both sides have punted more than New Orleans did last night. Each side with two straight three-and-out. I guess you could call this a defensive struggle, but my gut’s telling me it’s because both teams aren’t any damn good
  • Eli to Ballard on the first play of the Giants third possession results in the first first down of this game. We’re only seven minutes into the game before the offense shows up. they punt. the falcons pick up their first on their next possession, too
  • I was kind of hoping this would be the exciting match this weekend: yesterday’s games were blowouts and the later game tonight pits two great defences against each other, which will probably translate to a 7-3 final. Kind of surprised at the lack of offence here.
  • Falcons putting together a nice drive, not testing the Giants defence really, but picking their spots. They go for it on 4th and inches, which I think you should always do, and are just short, maybe by like an inch? (fun note: only possession of the first half where they don’t punt it away! except a hail mary at the end of the 2nd, which shouldn’t count)
  • And just like that, the Falcons get their first points: a falling Eli chucks one away from inside the end zone; it’s intentional grounding and is ruled a safety. Falcons are heating up!
  • Jacobs puts his head down and rushes for eight (about 8 left in 2nd). First run of his today that stands out to me; he tries it again on second down and it doesn’t work. Still, the Giants are putting a nice drive together, for once. A few plays later, he busts out a HUGE run. On the replay they cut together different angles for the run, which is kind of neat. The Giants have a 4th and inches and they go for it: handoff to Jacobs, who spins and picks up a couple. 46 with a nice block, too. Next play, Eli throws to Nicks, who makes a off-balance, spinning grab for the first TD of the day. 7-2 Giants.
  • At one point, near the two-minute warning, this is the sequence: play, commercial, play, commercial, play, punt, commercial. GOTTA GET THOSE ADS IN.
  • Halftime score: 7-2, New York. Both offenses are struggling, although they have put together a few nice drives. Eli’s had some nice plays, but a couple of boneheaded ones, too. Jacobs have looked really good. On the Falcons? Well, they’re not awful, I guess. Matt Ryan is 13 of 19 for 98 yards, no scores and a 80.6 QB rating; Manning is 10 of 14 for 60, one score and 103.3 (and a safety). Jacobs has more yards on the ground (48) than Atlanta does (37).
  • a few giants get hurt when they collide. One, Ross, goes to the lockers.
  • first big play of the second half: bradshaw explodes to his right, is hauled down around the five after picking up 30 yards! Giants running game is on today, they’re just pounding it. It’ll be neat to see the time of possession. This run leads to a field goal, 10-2 NY. As Fox goes to commercial, their replay shows Coughlin throwing his hands in the air, flippant
  • Atlanta goes for it on another 4th down and turns it over on downs a second time. Cue an endless string of coaches saying “never go for it”
  • This leads to a Manning pass to Nicks, who finds a seam, busts past like three guys and runs in a score. It was a shortish pass up the middle and Nicks was wide open + had an angle where nobody was really able to catch him. 72 yards pass + run!
  • The Falcons are not doing it in short yardage. On third and short, they get stuff, so they punt it away. Turner not having a good game on the ground.
  • Giants game coming together. Eli gets tons of time to throw a deep one to Manningham in the end zone, for a 27-yard score. We’re entering blowout territory, 24-2 Giants. Eli is now 19 of 28, for three scores, 241 yards and a QB rating of 130.2(!). The Giants offence is just blowing away the Falcons right now; Atlanta’s offence is sputtering, especially in short yardage
  • I spent most of the fourth looking at used cars. Atlanta had a cool three-and-out that lasted less than a minute, the Giants marched all over and missed a chip shot FG and then the Falcons put together a drive for the 2-minute warning.
  • Final thoughts: another case where one team just dominated. More than that, Atlanta’s offence just didn’t have it today. they couldn’t get anything done. on drives they failed on short yardage situations and their running game was non-existant. as a passer, ryan wasn’t awful – certainly not as bad as some tebow games – but he’s still only a midlevel qb, still not as great as he looked as a rookie. the big question coming into next week is going to be if the giants are for real (maybe) and if so, are they a legit super bowl contender? they get this benefit from 2007, when they ripped through the playoffs, sneaking past green bay in ot to make the super bowl. this is not that team, they’re not as good. I think they’ll give green bay a good test, especially on the ground, but won’t pull it out.


Pittsburgh / Denver

  • Kind of weird feeling that Pittsburgh, the better team on paper, is away here to a Broncos team that fell backwards into the playoffs.
  • Feeling weird about this one: Ben’s hurt, which limits Pit’s offence. And Denver’s defence wins them games. Other side of ball: Tebow, who’s looked bad in wins and worse in losses, facing one of the league’s best defences. It’s going to be a rough game, but maybe the first close one of the weekend.
  • “should be a most exciting game,” says Nantz. Well, by law of averages, maybe…
  • I like this side-by-side video they show of a pre-and post-ankle injury Roethlisburger throwing and how his motion has changed. kind of odd to use so early in game, but nice they went to the effort
  • Miller making some great catches early on, including one for 33 yards. Opening drive stalls around the denver 40, will kick a long FG, makes it.
  • Through the first, 6-0 Pittsburgh. Denver with two three and out, plus one drive that runs through the quarter.
  • Harrison comes in low for a hit, probably destroys Decker’s knee. I don’t think it’s a really dirty hit, but with Harrison’s rep, he’s going to get fined like a million dollars.
  • Tebow tests the Pitt secondary, throws a deep pass to Thomas, with Ike Taylor right on top of him. Good toss, especially for tebow, even better catch. He again throws deep, to Eddie Royal, for a 30-yard score. Denver leads, 7-6
  • Next poessession, Roethlisburger throws deep for Wallace, a 52 yard catch – but denver challenges and gets it overturned. I wonder if it’s a gamechanger? Crowd loves that ruling. Three drops by Pitts receivers, notes Simms. Drive sputters, Pittsburgh punts.
  • Injuries mounting for Steelers. Not good, especially with the team already banged up.
  • Tebow lets out out, a 57-yard throw to Thomas, who beats Taylor (again). He’s found something he likes, wonder if Pittsburgh will mix up secondary for second half. Tebow rushes it in himself; Tebow time knows no bounds.
  • Next, Tebow takes some savage hits, he’s getting pounded. He throws a pick, is hit hard again. Denver takes over inside the 20, Tebow throws to end zone, Troy nearly picks it off… and Pittsburgh gets a roughing the passer and this could be over, folks. Denver kicks a FG, 17-6.
  • New series: Ben picked, but a flag – offside on defence – so it doesn’t stand. Still, though. He’s hurt, can’t do anything. Pull him, put in Batch. they won’t and they’ll die by the sword. They punt away.
  • Another big pass by Tebow, 40 yards to Fells. Tebow’s looking great – albeit against an injured, sinking team. It’s 20-6, now, with all 20 in the second quarter. Steelers falling apart: Ben fumbles a snap, recovers but loses 23 yards. Pittsburgh melting, like something inside a steel mill. Cower asks if resting Ben at season’s end would have been better. I’m inclined to agree.
  • Halftime thoughts: Pittsburgh beat up, wonder what changes they’ll make. Ben’s hurt, too hurt I think to warrant staying in. And Denver’s taking advantage of Pittsburgh’s battered defence, exploiting how they play Tebow. You can’t let him run amok, but he’s also making good throws. Give credit to his receivers, too: Thomas with over 100 yards.
  • Tebow: 5 of 11 for 185 yards, 1 TD pass, one TD rush, 122.3 QB rating ; Ben’s 11 of 23 for 134 yards, no scores, one pick and a QB rating of 48.1
  • Second half for the Steelers offence opens with some weird plays, include a backwards pass that was almost a fumble. Simms explains that a forward pass has to go forward and causes a minor twitter avalanche. Then, the Steelers start moving: a pass for 18, then another… #33 – Redman – rushes down to the end zone, is dragged down, fumbles, but was maybe across the goal line? Going upstairs for a review. On the TV replay, Redman looks like he was down before the goal line, which makes it neither a fumble or a TD. After review, it’s called a first and goal from the one-half yard line. Wallace makes a run to his right, from around the line, into the end zone. 13-20, Denver.
  • Heath Miller with some nice blocks on this drive, too. They’re down a weapon w/him blocking, but he’s helping curb a tough defence rush.
  • Next Denver possession: Tebow escapes a sack, rushes away for a gain. Then he uncorks a deep one thats way off. Then rushes for another first. Ike Taylor is called out again by Simms. As third ends, they’re moving, right down into Pittsburgh’s red zone. Denver kicks a FG, 23-13.
  • As fourth opens, Pittsburgh is looking better on offence. That’s a positive. They’re not as good on defence, allowing a drive of 63 yards. That’s bad. The Broncos are chewing up time on offense. Might not be enough time for a two-score comeback.
  • Redman making some good runs. Just tears off one for 28. Next play, Ben rolls out to his right, super slowly. Somehow he isn’t sacked (throw is incomplete). Pittsburgh kicks a FG, cuts it to 23-16.
  • Tebow getting rushed, shakes off a tackle, moves to his left and fucks up a lob pass + misses an open reciever. Next pass, tho, complete to Thomas (over Taylor!) for a first down and 15 yards. But next play, Willis McGahee fumbles and turns it over! Denver challeges (why wouldn’t they?)
  • McGahee to this point had an okay game. 50 yards on 16 carries. But fumble costs not only possessions, but a timeout and their last challenge. Hope it was worth it.
  • Ben makes a quick pass, Sanders spins around a defender, makes it 3rd and one. Redman pounds it across, first down. Under six to play. Ben rushes and moves like he’s the tin man. Redman: another first down. He’s pounding it up. Ben throws a deep one, to a double-teamed Wallace. It’s just about picked off by Bailey – “shoulda had it,” says Simms – but isn’t. Steelers timeout.
  • Ben to pass, has all kinds of time, rushes out of pocket. Throws deep to end zone, complete! to Cotchery! Tie game with 3:43 left!
  • Open the twitter gates: “Tebow time” say all. He makes a big pass, for 17 yards, to Fells. They run it down to two-minute warning.
  • Never let this be understated: today, Tebow’s been impossible to sack. He just ran away from like three tackles, out of the pocket and got ball off. He just saved 10 yards. But on 3rd and 8, his pass is short.
  • Ben takes over deep in his own end. He has time, tries to move and is sacked. clock running, again with time, throws up middle to Brown, clock running, 33 seconds left. He throws outside to Sanders, picks up 18 and they stop the clock. 29 seconds left, Suisham is warming up on sideline. His career long is 52 yards. The catch to Sanders is amazing, a falling forward grab, an eight on the difficulty scale.
  • Ben is rushed again, fumbles and they’re lucky to still have it. But it’s second and 21, no timeouts left. On own 44. Ben’s deep toss to Ward is batted away, over the head of Wallace too. Flag on 3rd down, delay of game. A short toss to Redman, who goes out of bounds at about the 50. Suisham not going to kick, Ben to pass and he’s sacked. We go to overtime!
  • Ben’s blitzed by five guys, hit down by 91.
  • This is the first playoff OT under the new rules, the college style one. First play is a huge pass, ran in for a score. The camera catches Tebow kneeing, in prayer. Of course. it’s an 80 yard play. There was nobody from the steelers in the middle, and it was a footrace. Ike Taylor was stiff-armed and nobody came close. Thomas was a total beast today, Tebow had a hell of a game. The most yards against the Steelers defence this year.
  • Basically, what a game! It was about as exciting as you could have asked for. A hell of a finish, a great second half.
  • Final thoughts: Steelers defence looked bad, really bad. Ike Taylor was called out so many times it’s unreal, but he’s not alone. Tebow’s not a phenomenal passer, but he looked like one today, maybe playing the best game of his career. Certainly played the most exciting one.
  • And what about Ben, the other hyped QB? He was okay, I suppose, although he looked a tad slow. In the second half he put it together, as the Steelers came back to tie the game. But look at Redman, who rushed for 121 yards, a career high. Look at Heath Milller, who picked up 60 yards receiving and did a hell of a lot of blocking, too. I wouldn’t call it a flukely loss, but it’s one where Tebow’s abilities at QB meshed well with Pittsburgh’s flaws. It’s not every game where he’ll throw this many yards and expose the secondary.
  • Final Score: 29-23, Denver

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Written by M.

January 9, 2012 at 9:44 pm

Posted in football, raw dump

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