Divisional Round Recap+Get Excited, Bills Fans+The Denver Domino Fall

Note: I am not writing about Saturday’s games.  I didn’t see them due to my attendance at the Spurs-Timberwolves game that night. This column focuses on Sunday’s game.

Crazy endings, bad calls, upsets, UNEXPECTED FIRINGS.  It’s the playoffs!  What more do you expect?

Green Bay-26 Dallas-21

What a game.  What else did we expect?  There was no shortage of drama in this one.  Both QBs played through injury, with Aaron Rodgers playing on a torn calf muscle.  Tony Romo suffered a minor knee injury in the third quarter, but it didn’t have a huge impact.

As we know, the Cowboys got away with a big call last weekend against Detroit, one that helped them win the game.  This week, that changed a bit.

The game was very competitive.  The teams traded scores multiple times, and no one was ever down by two possessions.  The Packers though, had a tough time in the first half keeping up.  Aaron Rodgers was in visible pain in the second quarter, but his team was only down 14-10 at halftime. Rodgers fought through the pain, and put an incredible stat line of 24/35, 316 yards and three TD’s.  He did fumble in the first quarter.

Dallas used their weapons nicely, with DeMarco Murray running for 123 yards and a TD.  Jason Witten had a nice receiving day, with 71 yards and a couple classic Witten-like catches.  Tony Romo didn’t do a whole lot, throwing the ball only 15 times for 191 yards.  2 TD passes were thrown by him in the first half, but that wasn’t when they needed them.

With 4:12 left in the 3rd quarter, DeMarco Murray ran in a TD, putting Dallas up 21-13.  At this point, Aaron Rodgers hadn’t looked great, visibly limping.  I was concerned for the Packers, fearing the offense would be stagnant without him at his best.  But all Green Bay did was prove me wrong.

2:31 later, Aaron Rodgers threw a 46 yard bomb to Davante Adams, who made some great moves after the catch, for a TD, cutting the Cowboys’ lead to one.  Now, the Packers owned the momentum.

Adams had a great day with 117 yards and a TD.

They kept it.  A drive later, the Packers went 80 yards down the field, and Rodgers found RICHARD Rodgers in the end zone, giving Green Bay the lead, in what I would call a comeback.

The next 9:10 though, was something we and the Cowboys will never forget.

After a great drive by Dallas, they had a decision to make with 4:42 left on the Green Bay 32 yard line.  On 4th&2, Dallas was down five.  If they punted or kicked the field goal, it wouldn’t have done them any good.  Giving the ball to Green Bay wouldn’t of been smart.  Dallas went for it, and boy, did it get wild.

This was the play call.  A deep shot to Dez Bryant, who made an outstanding, leaping catch.  It set the Cowboys up perfectly.

However, the Packers challenged it, saying he didn’t maintain possession of the ball going to the ground.

I thought it was a catch.  His elbow was down with the ball in his hand!

After review, the refs overturned it, giving the ball to Green Bay, who killed the clock and converted a key 3rd down, caught by Davante Adams, of course.

And that’s how the Cowboys’ season ended.  A bad call at the end of a game, sounds a lot like last week, right?

I don’t want to here the karma talk.  It was a bad call.  Okay, maybe it was karma, but still.  It’s silly.

It was a great effort by Dez Bryant, who was visibly upset at the end of the game, deservedly so.

All in all, the Cowboys beat my expectations for them this year.  Their defense was outstanding. It kept them in games.  Really, it’s too bad it ended this way.

As for Green Bay, Aaron Rodgers makes things happen, no matter how hurt he is.  Everyone put in effort Sunday.  Now, they’re playing for a chance to the Super Bowl.

To quote Lebron James after the winning the 2013 NBA Finals, “You need a little bit of luck.”

Indianpolis-24 Denver-13

Yes, I’m a little shocked.  If anything, I thought this would be close and exciting.  I wanted to take the Colts.  I really did.  I knew this had to happen.

It did. It sure did.

The biggest question: How did the Broncos’ offense play this bad?

What killed them:  Andrew Luck had a huge game, and Denver couldn’t respond.

The game was close in the first half.  Both teams went back and forth, and it was clear early on that Luck was going off.  He, for the second week in a row, had amazing protection, allowing him to shine.

It was also clear early that the Broncos were off (sounds familiar) (FLASHBACK) (FLASHBACK)(FLASHBACK).  They had scored twice in the first half, and only had one TD.   It came with 10 minutes left in the 1st quarter!  Still, Denver only trailed by four at halftime.

Andrew Luck’s massive day included two picks, but he threw for 265 yards and 2 TD’s, and made some incredible throws (Hey, that happened last week too!).  With Trent Richardson being a HEALTHY scratch, the Colts threw it around a bit more.  T.Y. Hilton had 72 yards, and Colby Fleener had a decent day.

Boom Herron, the Colts featured back, did run in a TD.

Denver’s offense looked frozen (It wasn’t that cold!).  Peyton Manning had a rough day, going 26/46 and 211 yards.  The accuracy was the main problem Sunday.  Adam Gase called a ton of deep throws, throws that Manning was struggling to make.  Some went over his receivers’ head, some where too short.

Manning hasn’t been himself the past three weeks.  I know he’s been hurt, but he had a week off for this game.  I expected a lot better from him.  His team though, didn’t totally help him.  His receivers had trouble getting open, against a sneaky good Colts secondary.

That was the biggest shock of this game.  Indianapolis’ secondary has been the bright spot of their defense, but boy, it did quite a job Sunday shutting down the Broncos’ wide receivers.  They totally outplayed Denver’s “pro-bowl” secondary.

Denver’s offensive failure is what plagued them.  You have to score against Andrew Luck.  He will, no matter who’s around him, will make things happen.  That, is something we have now realized.

As for Peyton Manning’s future, this just might be the end.  Just might.

Ugh.  It’s so hard to think about, but he just hasn’t looked himself.  You really have to wonder what will come out these next couple of weeks.

News: Bills hire Rex Ryan as Head Coach:

On Sunday morning, it was reported the Bills had hired Rex Ryan to become their new head coach.  Doug Marrone opted out of his contract last week, and has been actively interviewing with other teams.

I love the hire by Buffalo.  Many saw Atlanta as the favorites for Ryan, due to a defense that has mightley struggled the past couple years.  The Bears also expressed interest in Ryan.

With Buffalo, Ryan has a stacked defense to work with.  With Marcel Dareus and Mario Williams on the line, and Kiko Alonso behind, the run defense is outstanding.  Ryan can only improve it, and even bring guys to him.

On the other side of the ball, however, it’s the same story is was with the Jets:  No QB.

The Bills were shocked when Kyle Orton retiring after having a fantastic year, and kept the Bills in the playoff hunt.  It leaves them with E.J. Manuel, who was benched early in the season, after they realized he wasn’t the answer.

The Bills have two options.  First, it depends on where the front office and Rex stands with how far away this team is.  I believe that a QB is all this team needs.  With a great defense and young talent on the offense, that’s all it will take.  Since you this talent, why draft someone, and wait three years for them to develop?

With this hire, add Buffalo to the list of teams looking to trade for someone this Spring.  A decent QB is all they need.

Rex Ryan walks into a nice situation with the Bills.  Honestly, I’m convinced though, that the Jets situation is no worse than Buffalo’s.  Translation: Add them to the list of teams looking trade for someone.  Don’t waste your talent.

MORE NEWS: John Fox and the Broncos part ways:

Did anyone see this coming?  I was shocked.  I couldn’t believe it.  At around 4:00 PM CST yesterday, it was released that the Broncos and head coach John Fox had mutually parted ways.

First, I think this wasn’t mutual.  The Broncos realized that their team hasn’t been able to win in the playoffs, due to… well…. offensive collapses, things being off, bad defense, etc.  Denver has to think that changing this starts with the coaches.  Offensive coordinator Adam Gase has been a hot commodity of other teams, from the likes of the Jets and 49ers.  Now, an opportunity arises with his current team.

Fox himself will be a hot commodity now.  Teams who were sold on someone else may change their mind and bring Fox in for an interview.  I expect him to be a head coach next year.

This change is key in Peyton Manning’s possible retirement this offseason.  Manning has said he isn’t fully committed to next season, and said he needs some time to think about it.  Manning also said that it may depend on who’s here.

So, would Adam Gase becoming head coach keep Manning in the league?  Did the John Fox firing tick him off?  Would Manning not be fond of having a new coach come in this late in his career?

These are all questions that we will find out soon.  As for now, nobody knows.  Nobody has a clue.

Next week:

NFC Championship Game: Green Bay Packers vs. Seattle Seahawks, 3:05 PM EST

AFC Championship Game: Indianpolis Colts vs. New England Patriots, 6:40 PM EST