This game looked like it was going to be a 56-0 blowout. On Green Bay's first drive, Aaron Rodgers hit Greg Jennings on 22- and 26-yard passes. After a 6-yard run and a 6-yard completion to James Starks, Rodgers connected with Jordy Nelson for 22 yards. Two plays later, Rodgers ran into the end zone on a play-action bootleg. Bang. Game over.
Well, not really. The Bears did a great job on Rodgers for the rest of the game. The Packers scored just one more offensive touchdown, and the Bears forced Rodgers into a red zone interception. Chicago had a chance to win at the end, but Mike Martz's moronic play-calling thwarted that effort.
Rodgers went 17-of-30 for 244 yards, one touchdown (rushing) and two picks (one of which wasn't his fault). He completed seven passes of 20-plus yards. However, the opposing quarterback was the bigger story.
Jay Cutler was anemic in the first half, going 6-of-14 for 80 yards and an interception, as he constantly overthrew his receivers. Cutler suffered some sort of mysterious knee injury in the second quarter and took himself out of the contest. Despite Brian Urlacher calling him the P-word on the sidelines, Cutler refused to go back into the game.
I'll have more on this in the power rankings, but Cutler is a major wuss. Philip Rivers played in the AFC Championship on a torn ACL a few years ago, yet Cutler couldn't go because of a little boo-boo? Are you kidding me?
As this happened, forum member Ryguy commented, "Can't wait to hear what Cutler's injury is."
Hyperborean quickly answered, "Sand in vagina."
After backup quarterback Todd "Tom" Collins embarrassed himself in the third quarter, third-stringer Caleb Hanie stepped in. This invigorated both the crowd and the forum:
Cal Hanie time!!!!
Good. They are putting Hanie in. They have a chance.
Thank god, apparently Hanie is going in.
Hanie didn't disappoint, going 13-of-20 for 153 yards, one touchdown and two picks. He led two scoring drives and looked infinitely superior to Cutler. As mentioned, however, Martz screwed Hanie out of a legendary comeback with an awful end-around on a key third down on the final drive.
Some key performers: James Starks was very impressive, rushing for 74 yards and a touchdown on 22 carries. He broke tackles all afternoon. Greg Jennings, meanwhile, hauled in eight balls for 130 yards.
On defense, B.J. Raji had a pick-six. Sam Shields collected the other two Packer interceptions to go along with a sack and forced fumble.
As for the Bears, Matt Forte had to do it all by himself for three quarters; he rushed for 70 yards on 17 attempts and caught 10 balls for 90 receiving yards.
Steelers 24, Jets 19
I thought the strength of the Jets was supposed to be their defense. If they were going to lose, it was going to be on Mark Sanchez, right?
I don't know what happened to New York's stop unit in the first half. Even though the defense held Ben Roethlisberger to 7-of-14 passing for 96 yards and an interception prior to intermission, it could not stop the Steelers. Rashard Mendenhall trampled the Jets for 121 yards on 27 carries. Isaac Redman, meanwhile, chipped in with 27 yards on just four attempts.
Rex Ryan's defense showed no interest in tackling. It was pathetic. The Steelers actually had more points (24) by halftime than New York ran plays (22).
The Jets were better in the second half - perhaps because Maurkice Pouncey injured his ankle - allowing Mark Sanchez to nearly engineer a miraculous comeback. Sanchez went 20-of-33 for 233 yards and two touchdowns, but was ultimately betrayed by offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer's slow and shoddy play-calling inside the red zone.
I really have no idea why LaDainian Tomlinson got the ball on the most important play of the game. On 4th-and-goal at the 1-yard line of a 24-10 contest, Schottenheimer called for a Tomlinson carry. Tomlinson was predictably stuffed at the goal line. He gained just 16 yards on nine carries, while Shonn Greene generated 52 yards on the same amount of attempts. It's almost as if Todd Haley kidnapped Schottenheimer and took over the play-calling.
Having said all that, Sanchez shouldn't have been in that position to begin with. I can't get over how bad New York's defense was. As I wrote in the forums, "The Steelers haven't looked this good against any playoff team all year. I don't get it."
The Jets simply didn't have an answer for Roethlisberger's scrambling. Big Ben's passing numbers were hardly impressive (10-of-19, 133 yards, 2 INTs), but he evaded enough pass rushers in the backfield and picked up a few key first downs (and a touchdown) to keep the ball out of Sanchez's hands.