Wow. It's hard to imagine someone being more wrong than I was this past weekend, having gone 1-7 (0-4 sides, 1-3 o/u). Then again, I'm sure it's pretty rare for the 2-seed to be playing the 6-seed in both conference finals. The AFC was definitely favored to win the Superbowl throughout the season, but with the heavily favored Pats gone and both the Bears' and the Packers' offenses looking unstoppable, I'm imagining a very competitive Superbowl.
BAL 24 PIT 31
A hard fought game where somehow 55 points were scored with less than 400 combined offensive yards. I did say turnovers were going to be the key to this game, and that was indeed the case. Baltimore had a good lead to start the second half, but turnovers caused the momentum of the game to completely flip around. In the end, both teams were pretty even and Roethlisberger showed once again that he comes through in the playoffs.
GB 48 ATL 21
Not much to be said here as I was just completely, utterly wrong about this one. The playoffs in any sport are often a matter of which team peaks at the right time, and Green Bay certainly looks like they're at the top of their game and getting better. Just a dominating performance on both sides of the ball. They are now the favorite to win the Superbowl, according to the oddsmakers.
SEA 24 CHI 35
Seattle almost came back with a back door cover in this one, which leads me to wonder what could have been. From my point of view, Hasselbeck played another terrific game, but they couldn't get the big plays like they did last week. During the cold and snow early in the game, his receivers kept dropping passes and having passes just bounce right off of them. Chicago pretty much had a handle on the game throughout, but they just didn't play at a high enough level for my taste. While Cutler had a nice QB rating with the 3 TDs and no INTs, he still only completed 53.6% of his passes.
NYJ 28 NEP 21
The Jets' upset of the Patriots came through a complete team effort on all sides of the ball. New England had almost twice as many first downs, held the ball almost 9 more minutes, and produced more offensive yards. It's not like they had multiple turnovers either, with just the one interception that actually didn't lead to any points. So what happened? Great defense that gameplanned perfectly for the Patriots' offense. Brady was pressured a lot, with 5 sacks and multiple hurries, including the one that led to the interception. But what I consider to be the most telling stat of the game was red zone efficiency. I was correct that Sanchez wasn't going to be very good at sustaining drives and converting third downs. He certainly threw a number of passes that just sailed past open receivers. But he came through in the red zone, converting for three TDs, including another impressive back of the endzone playoff catch by Holmes. It just felt to me like the Jets played with more passion and executed better. I did predict that there would be a fake punt/FG, I just didn't expect it to come from the Patriots!
There was a small thing that bugged me while watching the game. At the end, when Greene scored the decisive TD with just under two minutes left, he celebrated by taking a nap. Of course this leads to Jim Nantz saying, "I've never understood the absurdity of all the self-aggrandizing and now you're going to cost your team 15 yards on the kick and you're going to give Brady and his unit a chance to do something." Nantz, get over yourself. This wasn't "self-aggrandizing". This wasn't about him. This was about a long, tough, week finally being over. This was about all the trash talking and beating a hated division rival in the playoffs. This was about Rex Ryan limping down the sidelines to celebrate with his team. Let them have their moment, and stop YOUR self-aggrandizing, Jim Nantz.