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Sunday, Sunday

Playoff football. Nothing like it.

Needless to say, I loved the morning game. I was rooting for the Ravens to win, but I won't pretend I ever expected anything like the whuppin' they put on the Patriots. It's always nice to see Evil Little Bill get elimimated, so we can be treated to another one of his mumbling monotone press briefings, where he says nothing at all. (Win or lose, I much prefer Rex, who shows signs of being an actual human being, with emotions and a sense of humor and everything). It would have been a much closer game if Welker had not been injured, doubtless (I actually kind of like Welker, though he killed the Jets the last time we played the Pats. It still baffles me why the Dolphins traded him to New England for a bag of old socks, just as it puzzles me why the Raiders would give Randy Moss to New England for one of EVil Bill's old sweatshirts. Must be some sort of evil power) -- but the way the Ravens were playing, they would still have won. Brady looked... dare one say it... mediocre.

The afternoon game was... ah... exciting. And unexpected. I really expected the Pack to handle the Cardinals easily. This is same stuff Arizona pulled last year : winning a sub-par division with such erratic and uninspired play that no one took them seriously, only to come alive suddenly in the post-season. Anyway, Warner played an amazing game. Rodgers was very good too, once he settled down, but those passing stats of Kurt's are mind-boggling. I have to give the Packers credit for an amazing comeback. They looked dead half a dozen times, but just kept kicking dirt off their faces and clawing back out of the grave. And the ending had as much irony as it did drama.

All in all, great football entertainment, though somewhere in the distance I can hear the wails of weeping cheeseheads. An all-time record for scoring in the post-season, I hear. From my point of view, the wrong team won. I guess the Pottsville Maroons will have to wait another week for their curse to kick in.

That being said, I have to take issue with the commentators who are called the Arizona/ Green Bay shootout a "great game." That it wasn't. Exciting, yes. Entertaining, definitely. Good football? No. Neither team brought a defense. Up and down the field, up and down, up and down, pitch and catch. On the rare occasion where a defender actually defended against a pass, he'd get flagged for illegal contact or pass interference. It was a basketball game, is what it was. The sad result for decades of fiddling with rules to give the offense every advantage. Myself, I think they've gone too far, and wish they'd go back, if not to the rules of 50s, at least to those of the 70s. Let the cornerbacks defend, goddamn it.

These rules changes make it almost impossible to compare players from different eras, at least by using stats. The stats for modern players are grossly inflated.

Anyway, the Cardinals go on, the Pack goes home, the Patriots are done... and now the Jets have to face the Chargers, while the Ravens get the Colts. On paper, the Jets don't have much chance against San Diego, but as this weekend's games have proved, anything can happen.

What would be really cool would be if the Jets and Ravens both won. Long odds, I know... but if it happened, Giants Stadium would host one more NFL game before being demolished. The AFC Championship. And wouldn't THAT be cool?

Hey, a boy can dream.



Jan. 11th, 2010 11:47 pm (UTC)
I think it's a bit unfair to say that it wasn't a great game. Warner and Rodgers were picking apart the defense through skill and excellent reads. Some of the passes, Warner was threading right between 3 guys in zone coverage, each one about half a second too late to close in. One of the best passing displays I've ever seen, and I wouldn't blame the defenses. Now, if it was Mark Sanchez doing this, who is a TERRIBLE quarterback, yes, it would be quite bad defense. When you have two of the top 5 QBs in the league (both are completely underrated, and I'm a Vikings fan complementing Rodgers) and a high-scoring contest, I wouldn't rush to say it's bad defense, but rather, good offense.

Secondly, when you say a game is entertaining and exciting, isn't that pretty much the definition of great? Sure, it wasn't great defense, but that is not required for a game to be great. If so, then the final drive of your Giants' Super Bowl over the Pats wasn't a great one because of some blown plays on defense on that final drive, and the Tyree catch play was a terrible play because the defense didn't sack Manning! No, yesterday was a great game: the sport IS entertainment.
Jan. 12th, 2010 06:41 am (UTC)
I'm a Giants fan so I've watched that SuperBowl several times. Both teams played solid defense. I've not heard any of the analysts who were former players say otherwise. The only "blown" play on that last drive was Asante Samuels not making the interception. But even there he was where he was supposed to be. He just did not make the potential interception. The Manning escape was an exceptional play by him. You can liken it to Jeff Hostetler not getting the ball ripped from his hand while in his own endzone. Or those countless times we've seen Brett Favre get rid of the ball when it looked like he was in the grasp and dead to rights. That wasn't a bad defensive play it was great individual play. Poor defensive play is not maintaining gap discipline or contain. Or being confused in zone coverage and not being where you are supposed to be. We saw a lot of those by both teams in the second half.

Arizona played very good defense in the first quarter. The rest of the game there were wide open receivers. When a running back can break it to the outside, that's poor defense. When he can shoot through the middle... that's terrible. It wasn't even a case of great down field blocking.

Because I'm a Giants fan I do know what bad D looks like. I've been watching piss-poor defense the entire year.

I will say that I think it was a great game despite the poor defense. The quarterbacks and receivers play were exceptional. Even the running backs performed well when tasked.


George R.R. Martin
George R. R. Martin

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