NFL Direct Snaps: Matt Hasselbeck Leads Stunning Upset, Don't Blame Michael Vick

Dan PieroniCorrespondent IJanuary 10, 2011

Matt Hasselbeck celebrates with son Henry, as his four touchdown passes helped the Seahawks beat the Saints.
Matt Hasselbeck celebrates with son Henry, as his four touchdown passes helped the Seahawks beat the Saints.Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images

What a wild weekend the first weekend of the 2010 NFL postseason turned out to be.

I guess they don't call it Wild Card Weekend for nothing.

It started with the Seattle Seahawks proving that home field advantage means everything, but it ended  with the next three winners all being the road team.

On Saturday, we saw an aging quarterback somehow confuse the vaunted secondary of the Super Bowl champs.

Then, a gutsy coach put enough faith in his inconsistent kicker to punch his team's ticket to Foxboro.

On Sunday, a dominant defensive unit forced five turnovers from a young offense that's still learning to be great,and the miracle season for the once exiled quarterback came to an end.

Surely, it was a wild weekend, that made one thing perfectly clear, next week has the potential to be even more wild.

Five Things That Impressed Me About Wild Card Weekend

1. Matt Hasselbeck

The 35-year-old Seattle stalwart came back from an injury to throw four touchdown passes in an surprising upset of the defending champion Saints.

The Boston College product threw for 272 yards, and was able to use the deep ball effectively to confuse the New Orleans secondary.

His efforts assured that the improbable season that the Seahawks are having will live to see another day.

2. Terrell Suggs

His brash demeanor and celebrations after sacks may frustrate opposing fans, but there's no denying the fact that he can back it up with his play.

Suggs was the unquestioned star of the Ravens defense Sunday, obtaining two sacks and forcing Matt Cassel to throw under pressure all day.

His efforts led to yet another Ravens playoff victory on the road, proving that this team will find a way to win if you let them hang around.

3. Adam Vinatieri

The Colts kicker continued his quest to join Jan Stenerud as the only pure placekicker enshrined in Canton, by kicking three clutch field goals in the last 20 minutes.

Two of them were from 47 and 50 yards out, and the amazing thing is the Vinatieri hit them both right down the middle.

Take it from a Patriot fan who knows, when the game is on the line, there isn't any kicker past or present that I would want to kick more than Adam Vinatieri.

He has warranted his place in the Hall of Fame.

It's unfortunate that his defense didn't come with a stop for him.

4. Antonio Cromartie

You can surely make a case that Cromartie failed to do the job he was brought to the Jets to do, stop Pierre Garcon.

However, Cromartie made up for his defensive shortcoming by proving himself valuable as special teams ace, by,returning a kick 46 yards that help set up Nick Folk's game-winning field goal.

Sometimes, versatility can be a virtue.

5. Joe Flacco

Flacco set a Ravens playoff record by throwing for 265 yards and two touchdowns in their victory over the Chiefs.

What really impressed me though was his ability to put the ball right where it needed to be. This was especially evident in the third quarter on two throws.

One was to Anquan Bolodin, in which Flacco was able to put the ball at a angle in which only Bolodin could reach it while the Chiefs Eric Berry was tightly covering him.

The other, was a bullet to Todd Heap for a score that effectively put the Chiefs away.

The Baltimore defense usually gets all the attention, but we shouldn't underestimate the ability of their young offensive leader to get the job done.

Five Things That Depressed Me About Wild Card Weekend

1. David Akers

It's hard for me to fathom that a kicker that is normally as sure footed as Akers is can miss two field goals that are normally pieces of cake for him

Akers missed from 41 and 34 yards out. Had he made both, the Eagles could possibly be moving on.

Sports Illustrated reported this morning that Akers was going through some personal problems that may have affected his performance, but Akers denied the claim.

It's easy for angry Eagle fans to blame Michael Vick for the loss, as he threw an interception to Tramon Williams that sent the Eagles packing, but he did throw for 292 yards.

Plus, he was constantly hassled by Clay Matthews, and had to deal with several dropped passes by his receivers.

All Akers had do to was make kicks, and with the weather mostly clear, the home fans behind him, and some easy kicks to contend with, he couldn't come through.

2. The Kansas City Chiefs Offense

In their first home playoff game in forever, the Chiefs offense sputtered for outgoing offensive coordinator Charlie Weis.

Matt Cassel throw for only 70 yards and was intercepted three times.

Jamaal Charles and Dexter McCluster also lost fumbles that gave the Ravens offense more room to operate.

In all, the Chiefs committed 5 turnovers, causing a miserable end to an otherwise fine season.

3. Roman Harper

The Saints secondary was ambushed by Matt Hasselbeck on Saturday, and Harper suffered the worst of it ,being duped into blown coverages that led to touchdowns.

Harper especially looked bad on the play in which Seahawks tight end John Carlson fell to the ground and flopped around, and then got up and ran to a open spot for a score.

At least he's got a ring.

4. Reggie Wayne

Wayne only registered one catch in the Colts loss to the Jets and was none to please about it.

In his postgame remarks, Wayne wondered why he even bothered to suit up when Peyton Manning only targeted him once.

What Wayne fails to realize however, is that he was being covered by Darelle Revis, arguably the best corner in the game.

Manning was probably under the belief that had he targeted Wayne one too many times, he probably would have been burned eventually.

Here's hoping that Wayne comes to his senses and the potential friction between him and Manning subsides.

5. Taj Smith

It is clearly forgotten now, but the Colts special teams player's silly roughing the kicker penalty in the fourth quarter prolonged a Jets drive.

Although New York did not end up scoring, I must wonder that had the penalty not occurred, and the rest of the game played out like it did, would the Jets have had enough time to make a comeback?

Idle Thoughts

1. There are not many more runs better than the Marshawn Lynch touchdown run Saturday.

2. I think Jim Caldwell called his last timeout way too early. He clearly needs to learn clock management.

3. I like the hire of Jim Harbaugh by the 49ers. It is a merging together of a guy who runs the best West Coast Offense in college football and the place where it originated.

4. Where I live. two inches of snow causes a panic.

5. I'm getting addicted to the quizzes on, it's worth a look if you consider yourself brainy.

6. I'm skeptical of the contract extension the Braves gave Dan Uggla. He certainly has pop, but he strikes out a ton, and his defense is below average.

7. Next week could be known as rivalry week in the NFL, with the Jets playing the Patriots and the Ravens playing the Steelers. I can't wait to see what transpires.


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