Story Of The Divisional Round

The Divisional Round had one good day and one bad day.  Coming into Sunday, I knew one of the games had to be great, because we didn’t deserve four crappy playoff games.  One delivered, and was so good it overshadowed the other.  But we’ll start with the less exciting games first.

Falcons-36 Seahawks-20

I had concerns about Seattle coming into this game.  Atlanta’s offense has been unstoppable all year, and that meant Seattle had to dominate time of possession.  Thomas Rawls had a great game against Detroit, his first all season, but that against the league’s worst run defense.  I had doubts that Rawls would run well again.  He didn’t, and that was only the start of the Seahawks’ problems.

Penalties killed the Seahawks Saturday night.  Devin Hester had two awesome kickoff returns *Has flashback to 2005* which were both called back.  Other dumb penalties on the defensive side of the ball only helped the Falcons too.  The Seahawks’ lack of discipline could be the reason they lost this game.  If Hester sets them up well enough, that gives the struggling offense a shorter field to work with.

Defensively, Seattle’s issues were exposed.  There’s just too much to account for with this Falcons offense.  The Earl Thomas injury changed things for the Seahawks earlier in the season, and had such a big impact that it cost them in the playoffs.

Props to Atlanta though.  Their receivers made some unreal catches.  It wasn’t a total disaster for the Seahawks defensively.  Their defensive backs did an alright job, but alright isn’t good enough against this offense.

The question for the rest of this postseason, in my opinion, is: What defense is stopping Atlanta?  If Seattle couldn’t, who could?  This is why the Falcons should be Super Bowl favorites.  There’s no defense that will stop them, and only one offense that can play keep away (Pittsburgh).  Good luck everyone else!

Steelers-18 Chiefs-16

Though it was close, this game was extremely underwhelming.  At the same time, no game was gonna surpass the incredible Texans-Patriots Packers-Cowboys game.

I think we all expected more than six field goals from this Steelers’ offense.  But Kansas City’s defense played well when it mattered.

Pittsburgh’s offense works well when it has space.  When they’re not confined to the red zone, they can air it out or have Le’Veon Bell do his thing.  Kansas City’s defense was suffering in the open field, but in the red zone they made their mark.  They swarmed to the ball, mostly because they didn’t have much distance to cover.  That led to Pittsburgh’s six field goals.

Is there cause for concern with the Steelers’ offense?  Well, the fact that they didn’t score a touchdown is a little concerning, but they still got their receivers going, and Le’Veon Bell wasn’t stuffed.  Plus, they’re not gonna face a defense that tough the rest of the postseason, no matter how far they go.

This game was the Chiefs in a nutshell.  Their offense this season was totally reliant on big, crapshoot plays.  Sometimes they happened and sometimes they didn’t.  Against the Steelers, they didn’t get any.  You can’t expect to win like that when you’re pitted versus a team like Pittsburgh.

I have no idea what Travis Kelce’s rant was about.  I thought the hold on Eric Fisher on the two point conversion attempt was blatant, and the right call.  I think he was simply in shock that they lost, and let his emotions get the best of him.

Pittsburgh versus New England is going to be great next week.  As for Kansas City, they just need more playmakers offensively.  In a explosive, pass-first league, you can’t dink and dunk.  Especially in January.

Packers-34 Cowboys-31

One word for this game: Classic.

*Goes into Peter King mode* Seriously though.  Green Bay.  Dallas.  Playoff game.  Explosive offenses.  Nail-biter.  It had everything a great game has.  Everything a classic has.  This game was a treat.

Green Bay’s fast start was unbelievable to me.  I knew they were gonna be able to score, but Dallas’ defense was worse than I expected.  The 12-men on the field penalty was just the beginning.  On almost every play in the first quarter, Dallas’ defense was looking at each other or at the sideline, leading to massive confusion or a terrible timeout.  Aaron Rodgers took advantage of it, because of course he did.  More on him later.

Offensively, Dallas was even worse.  It wasn’t exactly their players though.  I thought the Cowboys’ game-plan was atrocious.  Ezekiel Elliot didn’t get the ball nearly enough Sunday, leading to Dak Prescott, who was a little off, throwing the ball too much.  He had a couple balls sail on him, and a couple passes broken up by Green Bay’s secondary (who played extremely well).

The Cowboys got completely out-coached in the first half, even though they had cut the lead to 21-13 at halftime.

Dallas had adjustments to make at halftime, and they failed to come through.  It made no sense to keep letting Dak throw the ball, and it made even less sense after he threw an interception on the first drive of the 2nd half.  By then, it really seemed over.

But the Dallas defense came up with a play that, based on how bad their performance had been in the first half, no one expected them to make.

When Aaron Rodgers threw that ball deep to Davonte Adams, I literally said “ballgame” before he caught it.  He was wide open, and looked gone as he was about to catch that ball.  But Jeff Heath came up with the biggest play of the game, coming out of nowhere to intercept the ball.  His pick completely changed the momentum of the game.

Dallas scored two touchdowns to tie the game with 4:12 left.  Then the real madness occurred.

The kicking display in those last four minutes was unreal.  Are we sure half the league’s kickers could hit those three, long field goals in that situation?  At the same time, those kicks were close.  Mason Crosby’s first field goal was a knuckleball, barely sneaking in there.  His second kick looked wide left for about three-quarters of it’s time in the air.

Dallas lost because of poor clock management, poor defense, and also because Aaron Rodgers is a bad man.  The spike on 1st down with 45-somwhat-seconds left was atrocious.  If you let that clock run, Dan Bailey is kicking the game-tying field goal as time expires, not with 35 seconds left.  Those 35 seconds were too much for Rodgers, and I knew it as it happened.  It just felt wrong that Rodgers wasn’t gonna get the job done, since he’s a very bad man and was going against this Dallas defense that made one good play all game.

I will give the Cowboys defense some slack though.  The throw to Jared Cook that set up the field goal was one you couldn’t defend.  The job by Rodgers to expand the play out of the pocket was magical, the throw was spectacular, and the awareness and footwork of Cook was surgical, and made Rams fans shake their head.

In all, Green Bay deserved to win the game.  Though I was stunned they did, they were more prepared, and had the better quarterback that day.

Patriots-34 Texans-16

The Patriots are much better than the Texans and that is all.