Sunday, January 19, 2014

AFC/NFC Championship Game Recap & Thoughts

AFC Championship

Man, that was sweet. 

Really, really sweet.

Peyton Manning, in a big game, against his own “El Guapo” - Tom Brady - and he carves ‘em up for 400 yards.

I have no real reason for liking Manning so much, other than that I just appreciate athletes who are flat out bad-asses in their sport. It doesn’t hurt if they are funny, self-effacing, and also the epitome of sportsmanship and class.

And Manning is now certifed with his 3rd appearance on Super Sunday.

I don’t care if he loses it. It would be a bitter disappointment for him, sure. But I am more realistic as a sports fan: it’s hard to win a Super Bowl. To judge a player’s greatness only on rings, is stupid.

A Manning choke - or just any loss for that matter - against the Patriots, would have unleashed a Low Football IQ Caller Parade on Monday on the radio. Thank god that’s been cancelled.

He was a little lucky at times - the slippery fish snap early, then that seeing-eye floater later - but mostly awesome throughout. Picking the right plays. Then picking apart the Pats secondary.

Yes, noted. Aqib Talib.

Nothing for sure says he would have made a difference. Manning did not have Julius Thomas in that first meeting, and the Patriots had Gronk. That, plus when the forecast showed high 50’s and sunshine, we all should have simply said: “Game over.”

This was going to be Peyton’s playhouse.

And it sure was.

Both Thomas boys ran wild. Moreno and Ball ran fast and hard when needed. And even though they had to settle for field goals a few times when they could just TASTE a touchdown on their lips, the Broncos kept doing what they do.

Most importantly, when the Patriots finally score a TD to make it a somewhat uneasy feeling with about 9 minutes to go, the Broncos went PASS-PASS and connected to Julius Thomas for that backbreaking big gain down the left sideline.

And I flat out loved how the administered the final choke out. 4th and 2, about 1:20 left. Broncos up 10, understood that being up 13 was not much different, and so they just decided to ram it ahead and take three knees. Many coaches would kick the FG, hand the ball back, and play another minute of defense.

Maybe John Fox had seen too much of Brady’s miracle comebacks this year and decided, “screw that. Not this time!”

A record setting offensive juggernaut of a team, with a Mount Rushmore quarterback whose career was nearly ended by a trillion neck surgeries, is going to the Super Bowl.

Justice, was served.


NFC Championship

Meanwhile in Seattle, that game left me absolutely rocked in my chair.

I may be over-reacting, but that might be the single best NFL playoff game I have ever watched. It had everything.

Pulsating atmosphere. Check.
Thumping, bruising, big boy football. Check.
Almost no post whistle nonsense. Check (Great work, Mean Gene Steratore & Co.)
Thrilling, game swinging, big plays. Check, check, and check.

Colin Kaepernick running like a gazelle on the open plains.
Wilson re-animating the very essence of Fran Tarkenton.
Marshawn Lynch, going Beast Mode.

That TD run was nothing short of electric.

A deft side-hop cut into the hole.
High step upon contact (intentional?)
Vision to cut to open water.
Raw speed to pull away from defender angles.
Finishing balance to find the endzone.


Haymaker, haymaker, haymaker.

Niners and Seahawks, toe to toe.

I was aghast at some of Pete Carroll’s “tactics” if you can call them that.

A timeout just to go for it on 4th and 7? In a tight game like that? Unreal. He got bailed out because they made it.

Going for 4th and goal after instant replay failed, yet again?


To wit: what makes anyone think 4th and goal against a monster defense like the Niners that had TWO goal-line stands last week is at all, a “good” idea? 

More critically, with 8 minutes left in the game, you are down to assuming the other team might only have 1 possession left. They may not, but in the final 1/8th of the game, the math was compelling to just take those undeserved 3 points and tiptoe away.

Field goal puts you up six. Kaepernick will now be in “pressure” mode, throwing more, trying hard to get all the way into the end zone. And even if he gets the Niners into the endzone, you are now only down 1. Meaning, FG WINS you the game, instead of being down 4.

As it turns out, DJQB Hip Hop threw a pick anyway. Which nobody - including myself - could have assumed would happen. But things happen in a football game. Your next FG is a 9-point spread. Be ready to take that 9 point lead if “something” (like a fumble) does happen.

Instead, the Niners were given a chance to march down the field, and would have had 4 throws into the endzone from the 18 yard line to WIN the game.

Plus, they had 2 timeouts, allowing for anything they want short and underneath.

The Seahawks were in a VERY precarious situation. And then Richard Sherman happened, with a little bit of magic from a nobody named Malcolm Smith. One of 53 guys on a T-E-A-M with a job to do, and he did his wonderfully on that play. Being present, alert, and ready to snatch victory, as it hung in the air.

Smith did not instigate a taunting penalty after that play, to avenge some mythical “trash talk” that might have hurt his feelings. Smith did not act like a classless jackass on national TV. 

And that’s part of why you have no idea who he is.

Welcome to sports in the modern, internet, viral age.

Now, one last thought on replay.

It failed.

Yes, IT did.

Don’t argue that replay is good, it’s the restrictions and rules that are screwed up. The point of having instant replay is to avoid having fallible humans make honest mistakes that change outcomes of games, and perhaps someday (gasp!) costs a team a trip to the Super Bowl.

That is WHY you have replay.

But replay fails, time and time again. 

It fails because replay can’t envision, cover, or be written in a way that entails every complicated rules situation that may arise on a pro football field. The only way it MIGHT be able to achieve perfection, is to say “every single play is subject to replay, and the game will be stopped and re-started an indefinite number of times, in order to make sure no wrong calls are made.”

Otherwise, replay shall fail, and fail, and fail again.

Sorry. It’s fact. It’s science.

The concept of replay is flawed from the start. It’s central conceit is that we can identify a certain subset of plays (TD’s and turnovers, for example) that will comprise the crucial game changing errors, and allow them to be corrected.

But games hinge on anything, and everything. Calls that are made, and not made. Rules that are mis-applied (like Steratore’s 5-yard running into call, not roughing call on the punter) and things that are simply missed.

But the people seem to like replay in sports.

And the people have spoken.

It’s like Obamacare. You wanted it. You got it. Have fun.


  1. Manning should have thrown a short 2 yard pass instead of taking three knees; that would have given him 402 passing yards and 402 is the Omaha area code. But 400 yards and 2 touchdowns is close enough.

    That shot of "Rah Rah" Pete Carroll "bebopping and scatting" on the sideline after the Sherman/Smith interception was hilarious. As much as I dislike the Seahawks I hate the "Niners even more.

  2. You got your Super Bowl wish, Czabe. No "Hard-paw," no Belichick.

  3. Replay fails because Perreira keeps spewing bad info! Sure, a fumble like that without a clear recovery isn't reviewable. But he missed the obvious as he does in most cases. Bowman didn't fumble!!! Bowman had full possession and was clearly touched and therefore down by contact as he layed with his leg pointing in various directions. That's absolutely 100% reviewable because that's reviewed every bleeping game. But alas, Gene's crew missed it and got it wrong and so did that idiot who spews his nonsense game after game to the watching community.

  4. czabe u r wrong on the 4th and 1 that seattle didn't get on the fumble.
    if they kick a FG their up 6 with 8 minutes to go, SF will most likely have two posssesions left.
    easy to go 40 yards in 2 possessions and kick two fgs to tie the game.
    if seattle scores they go up 10 with 8 minutes to go. now with two possessions left SF needs a fg and a td. a very tall task against the seahwawks D. if seattle would of scored it would of put the game out of reach the way their D plays. you can play 20-20 hind sight monday morning QB and say well Kapp threw the pick on the next series and seattle would of been up by 9 if they kicked the 4th and 1 FG then the subsequent FG....and if you can predict that -please tell me the powerball #'s for this weeks drawing.

  5. I agree with T-T on that. A FG at the 1 yrd line would have set Seattle up to have scored just enough points to lose. Going for it there was playing to win, as Czabe always recommends. You complain teams play not-to-lose too often. Here's one where Crazy Pete is trying to lay the dagger. And what's the worst case scenario, you don't make it and SF starts at the 1. Well, ok, that was supposed to be the worst-case scenario! Nope, when you're hearing "Finish 'em Rock!", you gotta try to finish 'em.

  6. Czabe -- rather than complaining about Instant Replay (and Obamacare, for that matter) how about suggesting HOW TO FIX IT? Complaining does nothing productive.

    What's wrong with how the NHL handles replays? Have someone watching the TV feed. If the call is obviously wrong from the fan's perspective, correct it. Simple.