Better late than never right?
In what many expected to be the closest game of Wild Card weekend, the Ravens jumped out to a 24-0 first quarter lead and never looked back in handing Tom Brady his first career home playoff loss. The Ravens got an 83-yard TD run from running back Ray Rice on their first play from scrimmage, and went on to dominate the rest of the game, taking advantage of uncharacteristic turnovers by Brady to score quickly and often in that first quarter. The 24-0 lead proved to be more than enough, as the Ravens only added 10 more points the rest of the game but still won comfortably. It was a shocking loss for the Patriots, who many people expected to just turn it on once the playoffs started. Instead they will be sent home with a list of questions and concerns, including what to do with Randy Moss and whether or not this is the end of an era in New England.
MVP: Ray Rice (22 car, 159 yards, 2 TD) – You know you’re in for a good day as a RB when the first time you carry the ball you burst up-field for an 83-yard score. Rice came out and along with Willis McGahee, dominated the ground game for Baltimore, allowing them to chew up clock and literally carrying them to victory. Joe Flacco was just 4-10 for 40 yards, but it didn’t matter as the running game let him rest comfortably all day as the Patriots could not stop Baltimore ground attack.
LVP: Tom Brady (23-42, 154 yards, 2 TD, 3 INT, Lost Fumble) – This was just a confusing game if your Patriots fans, and the most confusing of them all was Tom Brady not showing up ready to play. Brady started off the first quarter by throwing two picks, helping the Ravens jump out to that 24-0 lead and he seemed out of it the rest of the day. He rushed throws, threw into a lot of double-coverage and just never looked comfortable under the Ravens pressure. This is surely a game that Brady will want to quickly forget.
Where to even begin with this one? The Cardinals jumped out to a 17-0 lead in the first quarter before extending it to 31-10 early in the third, a sign that this was surely going to be the fourth blow-out of Wild Card weekend. That is until Aaron Rodgers and the Packers offense decided to join the party. Rodgers threw an interception on his first pass of the game, but eventually settled down and lead the Packers to five straight touch down drives. Kurt Warner was no slouch however, as he kept the Cardinals scoring with an unbelievable passing day. After the Packers had tied the game at 45 with just over a minute and a half left, Warner quickly lead the Cardinals down field for what was a potential game-winning field goal. But Neil Rackers missed what amounts to a chip shot and the game headed into overtime. With all the momentum on their side the Packers won the coin-toss and seemed destined to pull of the huge comeback. On the first play from scrimmage in OT, Rodgers missed a wide open Greg Jennings in the middle of the field for what surely would have been the winning touchdown. Two plays later, the Cardinals brought the blitz on third down, and cornerback Michael Adams hit Rodgers and caused the ball to pop loose, linebacker Karlos Dansby snatched it out of the air and ran untouched 17 yards for the game winning score in what ended up as the highest-scoring postseason game in history. This is a game that anyone who watched will definitely not forget for a long, long time.
Play of the Week:
Greg Jennings, Green Bay Packers, WR
In the midst of a furious rally from a three touchdown deficit, Packers QB Aaron Rodgers drops back and throws a laser to receiver Greg Jennings, who snatches the ball out of the air one-handed for the score.
Stud of the Week:
Kurt Warner, Cardinals, QB (29-33, 379 yards, 5 TD) – Quite simply, Warner put on what is the greatest quarterback display in NFL playoff history. Those stats are not a typo folks, Warner had more touchdown passes than incompletions in the game. Let me say that again so it settles in correctly, Warner had more touchdown passes than incompletions! Anyone who doubted if Warner could still play was silenced with this game, as he masterfully picked apart what was the NFL’s second ranked-defense. The Packers, don’t forget, are lead on the defensive side by the new Defensive Player of the Year, Charles Woodson. Warner put the ball in the toughest of spots, giving his receivers a chance to make big plays and they delivered. This was a clinic, and if any of you out there want your kids to know how a quarterback should play, just show them video of Warner in this game. Absolutely incredible.
Divisional Round Predictions:
Vikings 27, Cowboys 24
Arizona Cardinals vs. New Orleans Saints – If you don’t watch this game, then you are not a true football fan. Potentially, they have a chance to break the record the Cardinals just set with the Packers last week for the highest scoring postseason game in history. Warner vs. Brees should be a sight to see this weekend.
Cardinals 45, Saints 42
Baltimore Ravens vs. Indianapolis Colts – The Ravens look scary good right now after pounding the Pats. The Colts haven’t played a meaningful game in over a month, but don’t expect Peyton Manning to give away this game the same way Tom Brady did last week.
Colts 24, Ravens 20
New York Jets vs. San Diego Chargers – Chargers are riding an 11-game winning streak, the Jets have won three straight do-or-die games. This will come down to which team can be more effective offensively, and I’ll take Rivers over Sanchez any day of the week.
Chargers 30, Jets 17