One Bird Above All
Being tasked with stopping or at least slowing down the best offense in the NFL is not easy. Even for a defense as feared as Seattle’s. That was pretty evident when Atlanta seemed to all of a sudden score 19 unanswered points from the 2nd to 3rd quarter. Seattle tried to catch up late in the fourth, but it was too little too late. Matt Ryan was solid. He was getting pressured, but he was able to find an open man in many of those situations. I don’t think many teams in the NFL can flat out stop the Falcons offense, what with the receivers at Matt Ryan’s disposal and having two running backs that can catch. Atlanta’s defense is their biggest flaw and if they can’t stop the other team from scoring, it will be a shootout between the offense’s. That seems to be the trend in today’s NFL.
All Is Well After Halftime
The Houston Texans were only down 17-13 at halftime. Why did the final score end up being 34-16 in favor of the New England Patriots? Mainly because the Patriots realized they were the better team in the second half. Houston still had many opportunities to either tie or even begin to take the lead on the Patriots after halftime, but the turnover bug reared its ugly head again. We all figured this game was going to be a foregone conclusion early that the Patriots would win, but it took a while for that to happen. Tom Brady didn’t have his best game, but their secret weapon (not really a secret) RB Dion Lewis had himself a day with a 3 TD performance becoming the first player to do it on a kickoff, rushing and receiving play in a playoff game. Other than Dallas, New England are the favorites to win it all. Everything seems to be in order for the AFC Championship game.
When you think of the Green Bay Packers and Dallas Cowboys matchup, usually the first thought that comes to mind is the Ice Bowl between them for the NFC Championship in 1967. Now the next time this matchup is brought up, you might think of the 2017 Divisional Round between them. This game could have gotten out of hand early with the Packers having a 21-3 lead until the Cowboys answered with a Dez Bryant 40-yard touchdown catch. Dallas was only down 21-13 at halftime. Then things got really interesting in the second half. Aaron Rodgers threw a TD pass to Jared Cook the start the second half. Dallas would then score 15 unanswered points in the 4th quarter to tie the game at 28. Green Bay would use some clock to kick a go-ahead field goal. Dallas would answer using just over a minute to tie the game at 31. Then the most insane catch I’ve seen in a long time was made by Jared Cook going toward the sideline to put Mason Crosby within range to win it. The Cowboys use their last timeout to ‘ice’ Crosby. He made the field goal as time was called. Then he went on to just squeeze the next one beside the left upright for the victory. The fourth quarter of this game will be talked about for quite some time.
Defense Reigned Supreme
The Kansas City Chiefs defense played very well. They didn’t allow a single touchdown by either Ben Roethlisberger, Le’Veon Bell or Antonio Brown. They did however, allow six field goals (a playoff record) by Chris Boswell for the Steelers to win 18-16. The Steelers defense played well also. They allowed only two touchdowns and a field goal. The Chiefs could have tied the game with a successful two-piont conversion late in the game if Eric Fisher wasn’t holding James Harrison. No matter what TE Travis Kelce says, that was a hold and had to be called. Someone needs to ask him why his teammate Justin Houston was grilling him from the sideline after he was called for an unsportsmanlike penalty. Then he can talk about a supposed bad call from the referees. Either way, this was a good game that peaked my interest going into it. Either one of them can beat the Patriots in the AFC Championship game. Pittsburgh seems better equipped with their ‘Killer B’ offense and their defense playing at an elite level right now. Should be another great Sunday.