A hearty congratulations goes out to the Minnesota Vikings, the New Orleans Saints, the Indianapolis Colts, and the San Diego Chargers. They all played excellent games and set up the matchups that...hold on, the editor just sent me an e-mail. Let's crack that bad boy open. Oh. It says "You...are...a..." Hey! Don't get personal! Apparently he said one of the teams DIDN'T win. Wait. You're saying the Chargers...got beat at home...by the New York Jets? You're serious? Is it April 1? It's not?
Well, let's begin at the beginning. Saturday afternoon began with the New Orleans Saints, the most prolific offensive team in football, facing off with the defensively challenged Cardinals. The same Cardinals who got extremely lucky after Neil Rackers nearly kicked himself out of a job, missing a field goal against the hated Green Bay Packers that put Aaron Rodgers in position for the face mask/sack that won the game for the Cards. It was going to be a high flying, high scoring game.
Unfortunately, the Cardinals missed the memo. When the first drive of the game was over, the Cardinals had a 7-0 lead on a 70-yard touchdown run by Troy Hambrick.Jr...sorry, I mean Tim Hightower. However, the Cardinal defense had given up 45 points in the first game and WON. Could a repeat performance be about to happen?
In a word: NO!
Some guy named Lynell Hamilton drove his feet into the end zone for a game-tying touchdown. Then the Cardinals let Kurt Warner get massacred by the Saints front four, and then a receiver picked up a 28 yard gain, got buried, and lost the ball. At that point, Kurt Warner must have decided "Well, at least I'm trying, even if nobody else is." A little less than two minutes later,Drew Brees simply smacked the Cardinals secondary around for a touchdown to Jeremy Shockey.
Reggie Bush told Cardinals fans "The name is Reggie BUSH. Get it right or pay the price." And then he ripped off a 46-yard touchdown run to put the Saints up 21-7. Of course, Bush was not done with the Cardinals. Beanie Wells cut the lead in half, but Drew Brees laughed and hit Devery Henderson on a flea flicker for a 44-yard touchdown. The game was over at that point. Fellas, Flea Flickers barely work on video games, for crying out loud. Losing Rodgers-Cromartie and Antrel Rolle could be an excuse, but it's a playoff game.
Bush then crushed the Cardinals special teams for the final score of the game for an 83-yard touchdown return. Running into the end zone, Bush was heard to yell "What do you think of your Reggie Bust now?"
Kurt Warner then ripped off his jersey to reveal an nWo t-shirt and left the field to Voodoo Child. And he probably should have taken the rest of the Cardinals with him.
Final: Saints 45, Cardinals 14 in what could have been Kurt Warner's final game of a potential Hall-of-Fame career.
I didn't see the Colts-Ravens game, but I heard it wasn't very good to watch, Ravens fan or not. Basically, Indy's "defense" clubbed the Ravens into submission.
Final score: Colts 20, Ravens 3. Brian Billick is somewhere laughing his ass off.
The game that meant the most to me this weekend took place in my residential city of Minneapolis. The previous week, the Dallas Cowboys had embarrassed the Philadelphia Eagles, and a key play that came back to haunt the 'boys in the Metrodome took place: In the fourth quarter on a play, with the Boys having this game well in hand, instead of taking their foot off the gas, they went into the shotgun against a Philly team that had conceded and was watching the clock, ready to get the hell off the field. Dallas didn't score, but the message was clear: We're going to beat you until we get tired.
Dallas forgot two things. The head coach of the team they were going to face next was the former OC of the Philadelphia Eagles, and a man who still has a close relationship with Andy Reid, the head coach of said Eagles. The other was that they were playing Mr. Forever Young, Mr. "He's just having fun out there" Brett Favre. And when the game was over, WAY in hand, the Vikings sent the field goal unit out onto the field. And then they were called back. Tony Romo raised his beaten head from his seated position on the bench. Visanthe Shiancoe then caught a touchdown that put the Vikings up 34-3.
Somehow, Keith Brooking forgot that his team had attempted the exact same thing against the Eagles, and began using words like "classless" and "disrespectful." To which Pat Williams, the "317-pound man" replied "He was about to get his ass kicked." In a fight, I don't think I'd be taking Mr. Brooking, who acted like a prize-winning baby and a hypocritical jackass. I loathe the Cowboys, but that's for my own reasons. Anyone who says Brooking was not being a complete punk didn't watch the game, or is a Cowboys fan.
But Brooking wouldn't have been in that situation had not the Cowboys underestimated the Vikings defense. Because of that, Tony Romo got scraped off the Dome turf at least six times, and those are just the sacks, not the hit-as-he-throws so common to the NFL.
But Tony Romo was responsible for his own demise. He was sacked six times. He fumbled twice. He threw an interception. He was clubbed into submission, reinforcing my assertion that he is in fact overrated. But that's an entirely different article.
Finally, we had the appearance of the New York Jets. The Jets had defeated a Bengals team that never even bothered to show up, which should have infuriated every NFL fan except Jets fans. But we all thought the Chargers could, should, and would win a home game against a rookie QB and his first-year head coach.
Forgetting, of course, that the San Diego Chargers are coached by a charter member of the Hall of Fame of Chokers, Modern NFL division. And that their running back is suddenly complete waste.
The NFL players don't respect kickers. I'm not a huge fan of any kicker not named Gould, Longwell, Vinatieri, Gostkowski, or Stover. Nate Kaeding added fuel to that fire by missing three-count em-three field goals. In a playoff game, AT HOME, you can't do that. The most undeserving playoff team in the NFL is in the AFC title game because Norv Turner sucks. Let's be clear here, Norv Turner is garbage. But that the Chargers signed him to an extension after a performance Martin Gramatica wouldn't be proud of speaks volumes. That LaDainian Tomlinson continues to be held up as the starter, salary or no salary, is an indictment of a fool. That Turner continues to be employed as a head coach is an indictment of every GM in the NFL indirectly, and of the Chargers in particular. And that Phillip Rivers STILL can't get away from the specter of Eli Manning says that maybe Marty Schottenheimer had the right idea, that AJ Smith is a moron.
I'd congratulate the Jets, but, well, frankly, I don't think they deserve to be in the playoffs, let alone the AFC title game. I think the Cincinnati Bengals should be ashamed of themselves. Teammate or no teammate, Herm Edwards said it best: "You play to win the game." That Cincy didn't the final weeks of the season means every fan of the NFL should boo them.
To Herm's statement, I'd like to add: If you don't, why are you in the NFL?
Looking forward to Super Bowl Sunday. But after it...pitchers and catchers.