AFC Championship Game Recap – Patriots 23, Ravens 20
What a game! I thought for a minute that it would be extended into overtime. How does a kicker miss a 32 yard chip shot? Even though he blew it for the Ravens to head into overtime, they had 3 straight drives at the end of that game. Three chances to get into the endzone, or at the very least get a field goal to tie it up. The Ravens have no one to blame but themselves. You pick Tom Brady off 2 times in 1 game and can’t win? The defense didn’t play great, but played well enough to have won.
My analysis on Joe Flacco is pretty positive. He started off horribly but turned it around quickly and it looked like a man growing into an elite QB in this league. Outside of a really bad interception, he really played well. 22/36 306 yds. 2 td 1 int. A solid day for Flacco, but there’s one problem. They did not finish the way a championship level team does. This is the difference between the Ravens and the upper-crust of the NFL. The Patriots, though playing very subpar, showed why they are going to their 5th Super Bowl in 11 years. Just think about that…5 Super Bowls in just 11 years. Only the ’70′s Dallas Cowboys went to as many in fewer years, going to 5 in 9 years. Of course, the Patriots have already won more than those Cowboys did. The Patriots have, so far, won 3 Super Bowls (XXXVI, XXXVIII, XXXIX) while losing 1 (XLII), while the Cowboys won 2 (VI, XII) and lost 3 (V, X, XIII). So, even if you’re rooting against the Patriots on Sunday, February 5th, at least respect what they have done for the past decade and a year. Tom Brady will have a chance to tie both Terry Bradshaw and Joe Montana at the top with 4 Super Bowl titles each as starting QB’s. But, back to Joe Flacco. I think Baltimore will go into next year pretty solidly behind Joe Flacco. He showed that, while he does have some more room to grow, he is very capable of becoming an elite QB. I really think Tom Brady dodged a bullet, here. If the Ravens had taken care of business, I think it would diminish (very slightly) his resume. It wouldn’t take away from his Hall-of-Fame career but it would definitely get the media (basically ESPN) to stop acting like he’s invincible.
The Patriots will now move on to their 7th Super Bowl overall (only 1 short of a tie for most Super Bowl appearances by a team at 8 with Dallas and Pittsburgh). The Patriots, in addition to those mentioned above, lost in 1985 – Super Bowl XX to the Chicago Bears and in 1996 – Super Bowl XXXI to the Green Bay Packers. And now to wrap up this recap. Since, the school year is back in session I will give out my grades for each team. First the losing side. The Ravens offense receives a C+, defense receives a B+ (graded up for the 3 turnovers they caused) and the special teams a D. And now for the victors. The Patriots offense receives a B-, the defense receives a B- and the special teams an A+.
NFC Championship Game Recap – Giants 20, 49ers 17 OT
Just when you thought things couldn’t get any better, in comes the NFC Championship Game. A game that was so good it just had to go into extra time. What was even better was that, just like Baltimore had a 32 yard field goal to send it into overtime, the Giants had a 31 yard field goal to win the game in OT. The difference? The Giants made their kick. But,this game was a defensive struggle throughout. I have to say, as big as Eli Manning came through, he had many passes that should have been picked off. Many of those passes where you thought Eli was trying too hard to make something happen. But, I guess that’s what happens when you throw the ball 58 times (which is one thing that disgusts me about pro football these days). On the other side of the field Alex Smith didn’t have the numbers and definitely looks like the lesser of the two quarterbacks, but he had a nice game too. He did have way too many throws at the feet of his receivers, but most of those were when he was rolling out (which is not the type of QB he is). But you definitely felt that these two teams deserved to be here and deserved a shot at the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl. But it was the Giants who took advantage of it and will be playing in a rematch of Super Bowl XLII.
The real stars of this game were the defenses. Both defenses were in the faces of each quarterback all night long. The Giants didn’t shut the run game down like the 49ers did, but they definitely managed it. Outside of Vernon Davis’ 2 TD’s, the Giants D really showed up and has had a nice hot streak now. They made Alex Smith do what he just cannot do and that is throw on the run. A great game with a great ending.
I mentioned the defenses as the stars of the night, but there was one player that towered over everybody (including everyone in the AFC Championship Game too) and that was Victor Cruz. WOW! He had 115 yards before halftime. He ended with 142 yards on 10 receptions. The only thing the man didn’t do was score a touchdown, but in this defensive game it can’t be that big of a negative. I have to admit, with every Victor Cruz catch while Carlos Rogers “tried” to cover him (while looking like he truly wanted/needed help). After seeing Rogers finally learn how to catch a ball (seriously, why couldn’t he had caught JUST ONE FREAKING INT in DC?) it was with great pleasure I saw him get carved up.
Oh, yeah before I get to the grades I just have one observation. I know most of you guys won’t care about this and will probably laugh, but I thought it was kind of weird. I don’t have any photo showing it, but I noticed that what was supposed to be the NFC Championship logo (click here to see what it’s supposed to look like) became the NFL Championship. Instead of the NFC logo in the middle, they put the NFL logo. So, are they saying the true NFL Championship is between San Fran and New York? Are we going back to pre-merger days? Maybe, New England should have put the old AFL logo (or this one) in the middle of their Championship logo. Just an observation. Now for the grades. For the losing side, San Francisco 49ers. The 49ers offense receives a B, defense receives an A- and special teams a C (sorry, but I have to grade them down for that last fumble that set up the game winning field goal). For the victors, the New York Giants offense receives a B+, the defense receives an A and the special teams receive an A.
The New York Football Giants will be going back to the Super Bowl for the 2nd time in 5 years. The Giants will be making their 5th trip to the Super Bowl in franchise history. They have won 3 times (XXI, XXV, XLII) and have lost once (XXXV). Oh, and one last word to all of you Giants fans. You don’t deserve a great head coach that is Tom Coughlin but feel lucky you have him. Are you going to try and get him fired next year if you begin the season 0-3? Congrats Coughlin, if you win one more I think it’s a slam dunk into Canton for you! And you do deserve that trip, sir.
Yesterday, I posted a little request at the end of the post to pray for Joe Paterno and his family. Well, just hours after that posted we all got word that Joe Paterno had passed away. Please, continue to keep his family in your thoughts and prayers and (I should have mentioned this yesterday, too) keep those boys who Jerry Sandusky preyed upon and their families in your thoughts and prayers as they have to continue to live with the evil that happened to them.