With the first round behind us, there is only one surprise to me about the way things turned out over the weekend and that is the San Diego Chargers but many will say that was not an upset and I tend to agree but it is amazing to me how the Colts failed to close the door. Some additional musings and observations from the wild card round after the break.
Arizona has its day.
The Cardinals capitalized on what seemed to be a nervous Atlanta team early in both halves to get the 30-24 win. Edgerrin James gained more on the ground than Michael Turner in what seemed to be a rejuvenated Edge or perhaps just a well rested one. Or perhaps Edge is just trying to impress some teams for next year since he will be leaving the Cards. I'm sure most of it is just wanting to contribute and he did. Arizona came out with the classic do the opposite mentality on offense that seemed to stun the Falcons temporarily. The big difference though was the Cardinals strength in the air after two big plays to their two playmaking wide receivers. Matt Ryan did not appear as sharp as he had been in recent weeks and Atlanta lost the battle up front. The question now is whether the Cardinals triumphed for a day at home or they can travel cross country and perform in colder weather. The Cardinals are 0-5 in east coast games this year. Still winning one playoff game for this franchise is a tremendous achievement, even if it came with a grundle-grabbing...
Colts leave the door open, windy blur known as Darren Sproles blows through.
As I said, I thought the Colts would take advatange of the San Diego mistakes but the Charger defense held and the little things they did made the difference in the 23-17 overtime win. Sproles reminded me of the first time I thought he was superstar, in the 2003 Big XII title game where he gashed Oklahoma back when he played at Kansas State(even though the Sooners still got to play in the title game). Peyton Manning probably never wants to see another MVP award in his life. In the three years that Manning has won the MVP, the Colts have failed to reach the Super Bowl and this year did not even get out of the first round. No MVP has won a Super Bowl since Kurt Warner back in 1999.
Ed Reed back in South Florida doing what he did for the Hurricanes.
Once the Dolphins opted for a field goal instead of a touchdown on the goal-line in the first quarter, it was evident that they were none too confident in beating the Ravens defense. Ed Reed continues to be the best playmaking free safety in the league. Baltimore seems more cohesive than it has since its Super Bowl year after the 27-9 win at Miami. The defense does not feel like the offense is a burden, and the confidence in Flacco has come full circle. One thing that struck me about the game was that after Reed returned an interception 64 yards for a touchdown, Yamon Figurs seemed to feign a cramp on the ensuing kick-off to allow Reed and the defense to take a knee before starting the next series. Figurs laid lazily on the ground for a few minutes while Reed and the defense took a knee and grabbed water, then he popped up and walked off the field with no apparent limp. It was just a nice gesture for the team in the 80 degree heat for the Ravens wearing their dark purple jerseys. The Dolphins would usually be dissapointed by another early playoff exit, but considering where they came from last year it has been a great year. They were +17 in turnovers coming into the game but had 5 yesterday and their talent level is not high enough yet to overcome that.
Jim Johnson plays it perfectly.
It was not the most artistic win for the Eagles, but it was survive and advance. The 26-14 win in a noisy Metrodome Sunday proved the Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Johnson is still a master at his craft. Johnson put the pressure on Tavaris Jackson and the Vikings offense. It cost them early by giving up a few big gains by Adrian Peterson, but late in the game Jackson had to make plays and was under too much pressure from the Philly blitz. Asante Samuel made the biggest play on defense returning an INT for TD in the first half(where were those hands last Feburary?). Catfish does not buy it but I believe this Eagles team is similar to the Giants of last year and will now attempt to beat a division rival in their stadium like the Giants did to the Cowboys last year. I think many believe the Eagles can win but as of now I'm picking the Giants.