2012 NFL Playoffs

NFL Playoff Predictions: Key Players Who Will Pull a Tony Romo

BALTIMORE, MD - NOVEMBER 24:    Ahmad Brooks #55 of the San Francisco 49ers grabs the face mask of Joe Flacco #5 of the Baltimore Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium on November 24, 2011 in Baltimore, Maryland.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Rob Carr/Getty Images
Timothy RappFeatured ColumnistJanuary 3, 2012

Pulling a Tony Romo: To choke in an extremely memorable way, such as fumbling the snap when your team is lined up for a chip-shot field goal that would win the game and send your team to the Divisional Round of the NFL Playoffs.

Who will "Pull a Romo" in this year's playoffs? I've got a few ideas:

 

Tim Tebow

DENVER, CO - JANUARY 01:  Quarterback Tim Tebow #15 of the Denver Broncos leaves the field after being defeated 7-2 by the Kansas City Chiefs at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on January 1, 2012 in Denver, Colorado.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Im
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

Before the Broncos play the Steelers in the Wild Card Round, Tebowing will continue to mean bowing to one knee, putting your fist to your forehead and mimicking Tebow's ritual of prayer during football games.

After the Broncos play the Steelers in the Wild Card Round, Tebowing will mean laying on the ground and writhing about in pain after throwing one of your many interceptions. Expect the Steelers to bottle up the Broncos running attack and force Tebow into multiple turnovers this weekend.

 

Joe Flacco

CINCINNATI, OH - JANUARY 01:  Joe Flacco #5 of the Baltimore Ravens celebrates after throwing a touchdown pass during the NFL game against  the Cincinnati Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium on January 1, 2012 in Cincinnati, Ohio.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Im
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Yes, I expect the Ravens to find themselves in the AFC Championship Game against the Patriots. Yes, I expect the Ravens defense will attack Tom Brady and keep the game close, giving Baltimore's offense an opportunity to win the game.

I wholeheartedly expect Joe Flacco to completely blow that chance and play poorly, throwing two fourth-quarter interceptions to doom the Ravens.

 

Alex Smith

ST. LOUIS, MO - JANUARY 1: Alex Smith #11 of the San Francisco 49ers looks to pass the ball against the St. Louis Rams at the Edward Jones Dome on January 1, 2012 in St. Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

At some point, the 49ers are going to have to rely on the arm of Smith to make plays for them in the playoffs, especially if they expect to beat high-scoring teams like the Saints and Packers. C'mon, do you really see Smith beating elite teams in the playoffs?

I sure don't.

 

Isaac Redman

CLEVELAND, OH - JANUARY 01:  Running back Isaac Redman #33 of the Pittsburgh Steelers is hit by defensive lineman Jabaal Sheard #97 of the Cleveland Browns at Cleveland Browns Stadium on January 1, 2012 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Matt Sullivan/Getty I
Matt Sullivan/Getty Images

Rashard Mendenhall is done for the season with an ACL tear. The Steelers turn to backup Isaac Redman, who rushed 19 times for 92 yards and a touchdown against the Browns.

Here's the rub: Redman has ball security issues, losing two fumbles in the contest. Look for Redman to cough up the ball at a key time for the Steelers in the Divisional Round, ending their repeat Super Bowl run.

 

Ndamukong Suh

OAKLAND, CA - DECEMBER 18:  Ndamukong Suh #90 of the Detroit Lions celebrates after they came from behind to beat the Oakland Raiders at O.co Coliseum on December 18, 2011 in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Choking is all about losing your composure when the pressure builds. Generally, "Pulling a Romo" means failing to perform as expected. In the case of Suh, choking will mean doing something extremely dumb at an inopportune time. 

Maybe he will extend a key drive late in the game with a roughing the passer penalty. Perhaps he'll put the Saints in field goal range at a key spot in the game with an unnecessary roughness penalty.

Maybe he'll get himself in a scrum—the Saints are thought to be a little dirty themselves, after all—and get kicked out of the game, allowing the Saints to move up and down the field far more easily than they might if the talented Suh was in the game.

Suh has seemed a little unstable this year, and it has cost him. Bad habits have a way of reemerging at the most critical moments.

 

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