NFL Splinters | Divisional Playoffs

AP Photo/Dave Martin
AP Photo/Dave Martin

By Paul Gotham

Born on a bayou

Rumors of the Saints’ demise proved untrue. So too did the rumors that New Orleans lacks a defense.

Reggie Bush brought the wood. Drew Brees reminded Saints fans of what he is capable. Jeremy Shockey returned to the lineup, and the Saints’ defense made like some “old hound dog barkin.’ Chasin’ down a hoodoo there.”

Bush pounded out 217 all-purpose yards and became the first player since Charlie Taylor, in 1947, to rush for a touchdown and to return a punt for touchdown in the same post-season game. Bush led the Saints on to the field carrying a baseball bat with the inscription: “Bring the wood” – the Saints rally cry.

bayouBrees threw for three touchdowns for the first time since a 26-23 win over Atlanta on December 13th.  He hooked up with Shockey mid-way through the first quarter and the Saints never looked back from there. The Purdue grad later connected with Devery Henderson and Marques Colston.

Those expecting this game to resemble a shootout were surprised when the Saint defense clipped the Cardinals’ wings. Arizona managed just 14 points on 359 total yards. One week after scoring 51, the Cardinals offense met a stronger force in the Saints D. Arizona’s defense surrendered 90 points in two playoff games.

Arizona added to their own misfortune with two turnovers.

New Orleans moves on for a chance to bring Cajun country its first Super Bowl appearance.

“Wish I was back on the bayou rollin’ with some Cajun Queen. Wish I were a freight train, oh just a chooglin’ on down to New Orleans.”

us_magicbus.gifCall me lightning

Like New Orleans, the Colts shook off any signs of rust. Indy’s offense did just enough. Their defense did more than enough, and the offense might have made the defensive play of the game.

For 25+ minutes the Colts and Ravens stood deadlocked at three. Indy’s offense, which showed a quick strike ability all season, resorted to an old-fashioned 14-play drive that took eight minutes. The result: a ten-yard touchdown pass from Peyton Manning to Austin Collie.

Then, just when the Ravens thought they would go into halftime within striking distance, Manning and the Colts struck like lightning.

Indy grabbed a 17-3 lead at half with an eight-play, 64 -yard drive in 83 seconds culminating with a Manning to Reggie Wayne touchdown.

Baltimore looked poised for a comeback when Ed Reed picked off a Manning pass and returned the ball deep into Colts territory. It was at this point, the Colts offense made the defense play of the game. Looking more like a defensive back than a wide receiver, Pierre Garcon chopped the ball from Reed, and Indy recovered on its own 24 yard line. Reed intercepted another Manning pass on the same drive. That pick was nullified by a penalty.

Indy added an insurance field goal early in the fourth.

One week after scoring 33 points in a rout of New England, the Ravens offense managed little against the Indy defense. Ray Rice ran for 83 yards on the opening play of the New England game. Indy held the Ravens to 87 yards rushing for the game.  After their first drive of 15 plays, Baltimore longest drive consisted of just six plays as Indy frustrated the Ravens all day.

“You can’t catch me I’m as fast as can be. Call me lightning I’m as fast as can be.”

areyouexperienced Purple haze

Dallas entered play Sunday with the league’s second-rated offense. The Cowpokes left the game thinking “lately things just don’t seem the same.”

Brett Favre threw for four touchdowns, and the Minnesota defense drowned Tony Romo in a sea or purple.

Favre connected with Sidney Rice three times as Minnesota pounded Dallas, 34-3.

The 21st century Viking defense reminded fans of the ‘Purple People Eaters’ as they sacked Romo six times, forced two fumbles, and picked off one Romo pass.

Gerald Sensabaugh might have provided the best representation of the ‘Pokes ineptitude. With a 45-yard pass from Favre hanging in the air, and the entire state of Texas yelling – “SEE THE BALL,” Sensabaugh stared at Rice, and pigskin floated over his shoulder for a catch and touchdown.

“Purple haze all in my eyes. Don’t know if it’s day or night. You’ve got me blowin’, blowin’ my mind. Is it tomorrow? Or just the end of time?”

iReason to believe

Sexy Rexy Ryan and his Gang Green crashed yet another party. With all the higher seeds holding serve,  the New York Jets earned a spot in the AFC Championship. Despite being on the road for the second week in a row the Jets found a “reason to believe.”

This despite the fact that the Jets won their final two regular season games against teams sitting out most of their starters. All that behind them, the Jets held the San Diego Chargers to half their season average of points in a 17-14 victory.

010208_nebraska_coverThe Jets stopped the Chargers short of the goal line three times, and Nate Kaeding missed three field goals.

Mark Sanchez completed 12 of 23 passes including a two-yard touchdown pass to Dustin Keller, and Shonn Greene proved lightning can strike twice with a 53-yard tocuhdown run.

Greene had a 39-yard touchdown run against Cincinnati the week before.

“At the end of every hard earned day, people find some reason to believe.”

Your own worst enemy has come to town

imagesNext weekend sets up the possibility of the cruelest of ironies.

In week 15, Indy pulled its starters and gave up the possibility of perfection. The New York Jets were the direct beneficiary. Without that win, the Jets would NOT have qualified for the playoffs. How will the Colts handle the dream they have given birth to?

Brett Favre led the Packers to a victory in Super Bowl XXXI. The site of that game? The New Orleans Super Dome. Next week’s game between the Vikes and Saints returns Favre to a place where he is comfortable.

“There’s a face you know. Staring back from the shop window. The condition you’re in. Now you just can’t get out of this skin.”

Got any NFL splinters? Share them here.

15 Responses to "NFL Splinters | Divisional Playoffs"

  1. Pingback: Pickin' Splinters

  2. Herm   January 19, 2010 at 10:15 am

    You play to win the game!

  3. Pingback: Barnabas Moyer

  4. Smitty   January 19, 2010 at 11:09 am

    Behind every Super Bowl champion, you will find a kicker who doesn’t miss in the playoffs.

  5. Wally   January 19, 2010 at 11:27 am

    Ahaaaa! So … good kickers win chan’ships, too!!! I was thinking it had to be more than just the defense.

    Just chillax.

  6. Smitty   January 19, 2010 at 11:58 am

    It was nice to realize that Jerry Jones recognized the impact Wade Phillips had on his team. Unfortunately both the Cowboys offensive and defensive lines were dominated in Sunday’s game. People will point to Tony Romo and say he shouldn’t been turning over the ball, but he was constantly harassed by Ray Edwards and Jared Allen and never got comfortable back in the pocket. Kudos to Vikings line for a pretty dominating performance.

    What will be interesting is whether Ray Edwards is healthy on Sunday. He tweaked his knee in the 2nd half and if they can’t get to Brees like they did to Romo – he has more weapons to pick them apart.

    As for the Jets.. What a luxury.. Thomas Jones, Shonn Greene and Leon Washington (on IR) for a group of running backs. Hard to imagine that they will be able to keep all 3 next year, but right now the duo of Jones and Greene is incredible.

    So the Bills finally found a coach? 7 candidates later and it is Chan Gailey. It is an NFL coaching position – but outside of the Oakland Raiders – could the Bills have had a harder time finding a coach?

  7. Casey   January 19, 2010 at 1:13 pm

    Smitty

    Gotta start wondering if it is the running backs or the line when it comes to the Jets. Kinda like the Broncos during the Shanahan tenure. He just plugged somebody in and rushing yards resulted.

    As for Chan Gailey – I guess to some extent, I have become a Bills fan because this potential hiring feels like a punch in the gut. Chan Gailey?!? Listening WGR 550 last week – they were talking about how coaches don’t want to be the next Kevin Mularkey – a guy who was seemingly climbing the coaching ladder only to be thrown down a few rungs while in Buffalo. Where did Wilson lose it?

  8. Smitty   January 19, 2010 at 1:42 pm

    Casey –

    Very true regarding the Jets O-line… Certainly be an issue for Jones, Greene and Co. when it comes time for renegotiation. You want how much? Well we are pretty sure we can bring Freeman McNeil out of retirement and he will run for 1,000 yards.

    At some point, it is going to really help Mark Sanchez when they let him really start throwing down the field…. and he has a WR that will hold on to the ball. Where is Keyshawn when you need him?

    I am not a Bills fan, but I have been listening to the talk – and it is disheartening to hear that coaches really don’t want to come here. Did you hear what Leslie Frazier did in Seattle? He went there and told them that if he was hired, Tony Dungy would follow. They still hired Pete Carroll. 🙂 But getting back to the Bills… Ralph Wilson began losing it the minute he forced Bill Polian out the door. Look what Polian has done for the Colts… Can you imagine if he remained in Buffalo?

  9. Casey   January 19, 2010 at 1:47 pm

    c’mon Smitty, Sanchez has Braylen Edwards to throw to. Oh wait….

  10. Smitty   January 19, 2010 at 1:50 pm

    Casey– you are making my point! Stone hands Edwards has dropped a few in these playoff..

  11. Dan   January 19, 2010 at 3:34 pm

    It’s Mike Mularkey. Interesting that we’ve even forgotten his name…

  12. Casey   January 19, 2010 at 4:37 pm

    I should have included the quotation marks – I always thought Mularkey looked like Kevin Costner or vice versa. Glad to know we can count on you for keeping us in line.

    Thurman Thomas just gave his endorsement for the Gailey hiring. He made sense. At least Gailey has been a head coach with some level of success. And, as Thurm pointed out, being successful in the Big D with Jerra on the sidelines is not easy.

    Thomas also talked about Ralph Wilson. He mentioned that Wilson was upset after the Donohoe came in and tried to change EVERYTHING. Since then the owner has become more protective.

  13. Tim   January 20, 2010 at 8:52 am

    As a diehard Bills fan, I am actually okay with the coaching decision. He brings a lot of fire that has been missing for some time. He is offensive minded which is something sorely needed. And he is on the same page with Buddy Nix, which is critical because god knows we need to find and develop talent if we want to be competitive.

  14. Casey   January 20, 2010 at 9:20 am

    Tim,

    Welcome to the Pine!

    Yeah, I will have to take back my first reactions to the Gailey hiring. Thurman referred to a conversation he had with Emmitt Smith about Gailey. Thurm mentioned that Smith liked Gailey because the coach did not back to any players. In Dallas, Gailey would not let Troy Aikman have his way. Ultimately, that probably cost Gailey his job in Big D, but that attitude could be exactly what the Bills need.

    Again, Tim great to have you on the site. I will be checking out your NYC chicken wing reviews.

  15. Tim   January 20, 2010 at 3:38 pm

    Thanks Casey – its always nice to see some fresh opinions, so I am sure I will be back often.

    As for Gailey, I am a bit skeptical, but as a Bills fan, its your number one job to rationalize. There isn’t a single decision the Bills could make that I wouldn’t come around to in about 10-15 minutes. I was even on board the Ryan Fitzpatrick train. Yikes.

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