What Could Have Been
I don’t like playing the ‘what if’ game, but it’s hard not to for the Oakland Raiders. If Derek Carr had not gone down with a broken leg, perhaps that Wild Card game with the Houston Texans would have been different. To be fair, the Texans had the number one ranked defense in the NFL and that was without 3-time Defensive Player of the Year J.J. Watt for most of the season. They harassed Raiders rookie QB Connor Cook all day long. Oakland couldn’t run the ball at all to take pressure off of Cook. It might not have faired any better if Carr was present. The same could be said for the Raiders not having their starting left tackle Donald Penn for the Wild Card game. What makes this even more sad is that Oakland finished the season 12-4 and only played one playoff game. Hopefully they will have a healthy Derek Carr for next year.
A One Sided Affair
You had to feel pretty good if you were the Detroit Lions a week before Christmas. You were atop the division and poised to host a playoff game. Alas, you lost your last three games of the season albeit to worthy opponents who would also make the playoffs. Come to find out you would be going to play the Seattle Seahawks on their home turf. They were still in the game going into the fourth quarter only down 10-6, but Seattle does what they always do and they eventually pull away. 16 unanswered points in the fourth quarter ended it for the Lions. What looked to be a great season turned into a one game playoff with no touchdowns.
It Was His First Day
Hard to believe that this was Steelers RB Le’Veon Bell’s first playoff game. He sure didn’t look like he was nervous as he carved through the Miami Dolphins defense. 167 yards and 2 touchdowns on the ground for Bell were his final stats. He didn’t even have an impact in the passing game as Ben Roethlisberger threw his two touchdown passes to Antonio Brown early in the game. Miami had a chance to make the game interesting just before halftime, but QB Matt Moore’s fumble ended any chance of that. Another fumble later on in the second half by Moore essentially put an end to the Dolphins chances. Out of all the games next week, circle the Pittsburgh vs. Kansas City matchup as one that will need to be watched from beginning to end. What a treat it will be.
A Prayer Was Answered
I figured the New York Giants would make a game out of this. Eli Manning has two playoff victories at Lambeau Field in his career. Just before halftime they were only down 7-6 with two seconds left, Packers QB Aaron Rodgers heaves the ball from the 50-yard line for a hail mary opportunity. Low and behold Randall Cobb is in the back of the endzone to catch the ball. 14-6 Green Bay going into halftime. That moment pretty much cinched it in my eyes. The Giants did get the ball first in the second half and answered with an Eli Manning touchdown pass to Tavarres King. However, the Packers answered with another Rodgers to Cobb connection that looked way too easy. That connection would happen one more time as Rodgers torched the Giants for 4 touchdowns, 3 of them to Randall Cobb. The Packers look poised to unseat the favored Dallas Cowboys next week. The one key besides being able to defend the hail mary properly is to put a lot of pressure on Rodgers and not let him get comfortable.