Weekend Wrap: NFL Wild Card Winners and Losers
If you haven't already bashed your head in with a golf club due to the residual Tiger Woods chatter, there's plenty else going on in the sports world to occupy your time.
High-profile college football coaching changes, Peyton Manning's fourth MVP award, and Manny Pacquiao/Floyd Mayweather drama all lit up the wire this weekend.
There were even some NFL playoff games, too.
With four games spread out over two days, NBC snagged the Saturday showcase, while CBS broadcast the early Sunday game and Fox got leftovers.
Here are the winners and losers from the opening weekend of the playoffs:
Saturday Winner: NBC
Though NBC didn't get to pick which games it broadcast, the network dealt with what it was handed.
Dallas then throttled Philadelphia in the evening game, making two things abundantly clear: the Eagles really need a running back, and the Cowboys really didn't need T.O.
What evidence other than a very vague "nice variety of camera angles and graphics" has been given to crown NBC a winner for Saturday? None yet, but I've got two words for you...
Sir Charles dressed up as Alicia Keys for a Saturday Night Live teaser which almost made me lose my lunch, and then a joke about Cris Collinsworth dressing up as Alanis Morissette sealed the deal (I'm glad that one was a joke).
NBC's ratings were through the roof on Saturday, the highest two-game average for a Wild Card Saturday in more than 10 years.
The folks at 30 Rock needed this win bad, considering the monumental loss it is suffering by replacing David Hasselhoff as a judge on "America's Got Talent" with...yes, Howie Mandel.
Saturday Losers: Shayne Graham and Carson Palmer
Graham missed field goals from 28 and 35 yards, both in the second half, the 28-yarder essentially eliminating Cincinnati from the game. It didn't help that the Jets' kicker, Jay Feely, shined both kicking and punting.
Feely connected on his only field goal attempt, three extra points, and even hit two consecutive field goals which were both called back by penalty—one was a 52-yarder. Visibly upset after being pushed out of field goal range, Feely still managed to pin the Bengals inside the 15.
As for Palmer, I just think he would look cooler as a southpaw. Don't disagree.
Saturday Winner: Chad Ochocinco
Always a winner, Ochocinco (with some help from NBC) showed off his birthday present to himself, which can be seen here .
Feliz cumpleaños, No. 85. You've got plenty of free time to enjoy your new toy.
Saturday Loser: Women's College Basketball and CBS
Always seeming to get the short end of the stick, this was quite ironic. My initial idea for a submission was a fictional satire about the UConn women's basketball team challenging the North Carolina men's team alongside a recap and analysis of No. 1 UConn against No. 7 UNC (women). Brilliant, I know.
Vegas was going to open the line with Geno Auriemma's squad favored by a touchdown, in honor of me having the audacity to write about something other than the NFL playoffs on the opening weekend—a severe violation of the sports fan's moral code.
It's a matter of RESPECT, people!
Karma has its way of working things out, as I ended up changing the channel with a good chunk of time still remaining in the first half. Just in time for football to start.
Courtesy of a 23-0 run, Auriemma found his team up by 25 points on the NUMBER SEVEN team in the country, and was no longer asking himself how to win the game, but how much to win it by.
With five minutes left.
In the first half.
Sunday 'Tweener: CBS
The Baltimore Ravens came to play, looking like they did for the first three games of the season. Baltimore was virtually unstoppable on offense, defense, and special teams.
The NFL's golden boy needed more than his boyish good looks and stunning bone structure to keep New England's breathing in the playoffs.
CBS was fortunate to have this game in the Sunday 1 p.m. slot. It was a very marketable game, and what the hell else is anyone doing on a Sunday at 1 p.m. in the middle of January?
The first quarter was comprised of some very exciting football, but it probably would have been better news for CBS if the Pats had any fight in them at all.
At least it wasn't the instant classic of UConn vs. UNC women's hoops.
Sunday Loser: Bill Belichick
His Hall of Fame induction speech will not include any of the following words or phrases: "Spygate," "4th & 2," "Wes Welker," or "18-1*."
Sunday Winner: Fox
Green Bay vs. Arizona, eh? Some leftovers.
This game set the bar pretty high for "most exciting game of 2010," featuring everything but defensive prowess, until said defensive prowess ironically ended the game, the most fitting culmination possible.
Fox had shanked kicks, great catches, bit hits, and enough offense to satiate any playoff fantasy football entrants.
As you'll soon discover, having such a brilliant game is the only reason Fox is a winner.
Sunday Loser: Fox
A couple of researching glitches really marred this production for Fox. A forgivable offense came in the first quarter as Joe Buck announced the Packers hadn't trailed by 14 points at all this season.
Okay, fine. I wasn't about to fact check such a subtle citation.
A few minutes later, Buck announced a correction. Indeed, Green Bay had faced such a deficit in November against the Vikings.
Minor infraction, no big deal, except it was the second screw up since the game went on-air. In the pre-game coverage, Joe Buck happily announced the roof was open.
When Fox came back from commercial, the cameras cut to a shot of the roof, completely shut. Buck went on to inform viewers that the earlier information he had been given about the roof was, in fact, incorrect.
Are you serious?
Are you not physically at the game?
The research mistake was silly to publish before being 100 percent certain of its validity, but saying the roof is open without looking up to be sure? What, do you write for Bleacher Report or something?
This article is dedicated to a man I met Saturday morning around 3 a.m. at a pizza place next to my red line stop. Thinking I was from Chicago, as opposed to New York, he asked my honest opinion about who would win the Bengals/Jets game. Regardless of the outcome of the conversation, the point is he engaged me in a quality conversation about sports that I had sorely been lacking, and I credit the surge in inspiration to him. Hey buddy, I told you Darrelle Revis was going to punk Ochocinco.
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