The 10 Most Disappointing Performances from NFL's Wild Card Round
The 2012 NFL Wild Card Round proved to turn out as expected, with three of the home favorites taking care of business while one team pulled out the victory on the road. Ray Lewis' career will last at least another week, as the Baltimore Ravens now prepare for a trip to visit the Denver Broncos.
It was hard to ignore the disappointing performances that existed throughout the first round of the playoffs. The quarterback play wasn't always the most efficient at times, while typical star players didn't ultimately live up to their own expectations.
Here are the 10 most disappointing performances from the Wild Card Round.
10. Joe Flacco
Joe Flacco did come up big when it mattered most in the second half, but I would like to see more of a consistent game from the veteran signal-caller for all four quarters.
Early on, his struggles against the young and inexperienced Colts secondary had to concern the 70,000-plus fans that were in the stadium. Three of his passes in the first half were nearly interceptions, and could have easily resulted in defensive touchdowns and a potential large deficit.
The Ravens had an opportunity to capitalize on the Colts' offensive struggles and to put this game out of hand early. However, Flacco's five completions in the first half are tough to ignore when judging his performance.
I have been a Flacco supporter in the past and have acknowledged the success he has brought to this team in the past. As the Ravens prepare for a trip to Denver, however, he will need to be consistent all four quarters if the Ravens hope to pull off the upset.
9. A.J. Green
Granted, my observation of AJ Green may appear to be harsh, especially since Andy Dalton didn't do many favors for the Bengals offense.
However, Green is the Bengals' most reliable option and one of the three best receivers in football. Five receptions for 80 yards may look good on the stat sheet, but it is overlooked how Green was a non-factor in the first half because he was completely limited by corner back Jonathan Joseph.
Green also poorly misjudged a pass that could have resulted in a big gain, but instead turned into a Dalton interception and a loss of momentum.
Does he deserve all the blame for the Bengals' inept offense? Absolutely not. He could have been the hero with the game-winning touchdown if Dalton had thrown an accurate pass to him.
Unfortunately, his performance on the big stage was a disappointment, and the Bengals didn't stand a chance without his production.
8. Ryan Kerrigan
Ryan Kerrigan has been crucial to the Redskins' success on defense, as his ability to effectively rush the passer and stop the run has been a big reason for the team's late-season surge.
Unfortunately, in a win-or-go-home situation, Kerrigan came up on the short end against a Seahawks team that brought plenty of different dynamics to the table.
He finished with only four sacks, and did not play his best football by helping the Redskins defense limit Marshawn Lynch and the Seahawks rushing attack.
Russell Wilson also showed the ability to make an impact with his feet, which in large part occurred because of Kerrigan's lack of pressure on the rookie quarterback.
7. Dwight Freeney
Dwight Freeney might have played his last game in a Colts uniform, and he surely didn't go out in style.
It appeared that the veteran defensive end could have had a big day against Bryant McKinnie, who made his first start this season at left tackle.
However, Freeney was mainly non-existent against McKinnie, who allowed only one pressure despite 23 pass rushing attempts (per ProFootballFocus).
The Colts were known for their struggles against the run, but Freeney's lack of pass rush on Sunday allowed Flacco to challenge the Colts secondary down the field and eventually find success.
6. Winston Justice/Anthony Castonzo
I will make an exception here by discussing two players together because they ultimately shared the same problem on Sunday.
It has been clear throughout the season that the Indianapolis Colts offensive line has been far from great, as the combination of inexperience and overall lack of depth led to a lot of unnecessary hits on Andrew Luck.
However, Winston Justice and Anthony Castonzo were ultimately victims of the Ravens' Paul Kruger, who might have earned a new contract in the offseason based on his dominant work on these two linemen.
But in general, it didn't matter whether the Ravens attacked by blitzing Luck, or simply relying on a four-man pass rush. Their ability to easily attack the quarterback falls on two linemen whom the Colts expected more out of this entire season.
5. Santana Moss
The Washington Redskins faced plenty of turmoil following their loss to the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday. Most notably, Robert Griffin III's apparent knee injury caught the spotlight of the media, who have questioned head coach Mike Shanahan for how the QB was used.
However, it would have been nice if RG3 had received some help in the passing game from a veteran receiver who led the team with eight touchdowns in the regular season.
Santana Moss was non-existent on Sunday against the Seahawks secondary, recording a mere three receptions for 19 yards.
Granted, Moss was playing the league's best secondary on Sunday, but the overall lack of production from the wide receivers should be a cause of concern for the Redskins heading into the offseason.
4. Andre Johnson
While his quarterback might not have lived up to his end of the bargain, Andre Johnson couldn't capitalize on opportunities to give the Texans a comfortable lead.
His drop in the end zone was one of the many struggles the Texans faced during their time in the red zone. It was evident that Johnson performs at a very high level in the offense when the running game is effective.
Arian Foster played to his capability, but his All-Pro teammate didn't follow suit. Johnson may undoubtedly be a top-three receiver in the league, but four receptions in an opening-round playoff game isn't what the Texans envisioned this weekend.
3. Joe Webb
While Joe Webb might be a backup quarterback, his play against the Green Bay Packers is inexcusable. He finished the night completing only 11 passes and threw a touchdown pass when the game was out of hand.
Webb certainly provided the spark early on due to his ability to escape from the pocket and use his speed to help the Vikings gain momentum.
However, once the Packers adjusted, Webb was unable to be effective against a Packers defense that isn't exactly considered to be an elite unit in this league.
The fact that Webb was the backup for this game only emphasizes the importance of having a quality backup quarterback no matter the situation.
Ultimately, Vikings fans were screaming for Christian Ponder quite early after this performance.
2. Matt Schaub
Matt Schaub and the Houston Texans wanted to build momentum after losing three of their final four games to end the season.
However, the win over the Cincinnati Bengals shouldn't provide much confidence for next week's match up against the Patriots.
The Texans will go as far as Matt Schaub can take them. His inability to be an efficient passer and to execute in the red zone ultimately kept the Bengals in this game until late in the fourth quarter.
Schaub has not looked to have the same confidence that he once did, and he has shown signs of concern since the blowout at New England.
1. Andy Dalton
The NFL has formed into a quarterback-driven league, which should be a concern for the Cincinnati Bengals as they deal with Andy Dalton.
Two straight appearances in the playoffs equal two first-round exits, but Saturday's performance was alarming against the Texans.
Dalton was 14-for-30 with zero touchdowns and an interception, but it was evident based on his demeanor that he wasn't ready for the moment.
Despite the tough performance, Dalton had an opportunity to give his team the lead late in the game. Instead, his heaves to AJ Green fell short, and the questions about his ability to win the big one will begin to take surface.