Week 18 NFL Game Recaps
Texans 31, Bengals 10
The Bengals also went three-and-out to start because Andy Dalton missed a wide-open Cedric Benson on a 3rd-and-2. It was clear at that point that the team to quit making dumb, mental errors would be the one to prevail. And that was Houston.
Cincinnati continuously shot itself in the foot. Marvin Lewis had one of the worst challenges of all time in the first half when he threw a red flag to review a spot that would have been the difference between 3rd-and-1 and 1st-and-10. It's not like the extra inch he wanted would have prevented a punting situation; he lost the challenge and then promptly moved the chains on the next play. This was a big deal because Lewis challenged again later in the first half. He lost that one as well, giving him no reviews after intermission.
The Bengals also wasted a timeout on the third play of the third quarter because Dalton couldn't hear the play. Houston's crowd did a great job of getting up for its first playoff contest with this new franchise.
Dalton had an up-and-down performance overall. He made some nice throws, and his yardage figures don't account for a 50-yard pass-interference penalty to A.J. Green, who beat Glover Quin. However, Dalton missed some open receivers downfield, and the aforementioned third pick was poorly thrown to Danieal Manning.
First of all, Hammond looked like a clown. Like an actual clown. I don't know what his makeup artists were thinking or trying to hide. Forum member FTM commented, "Is Tom Hammond a puppet from Team America? That is not a human face."
His commentary was more comical, as he mispronounced players' names all night, from Glover Quin to Danieal Manning. He even called Matt Schaub "Matt Shoob." Fortunately, Hammond is done doing football for the year, as he'll be moving on to the boring Olympics next week.
Saints 45, Lions 28
Apparently not. Different game, same result. We can now confirm the Saints are 17 points better than the Lions.
The Saints, however, got their act together in the second half. Brees was unstoppable, going 33-of-43 for 466 yards and three touchdowns. The team didn't even punt. In fact, New Orleans set a playoff record for most net yards in a single game with 626.
Of course, it didn't help the Lions' cause that they continuously blew coverages and whiffed on tackles. It's amazing how many times Brees' targets were open downfield. And I know Detroit struggled versus the run all year, but making Pierre Thomas (8-66, TD) and Chris Ivory (13-47) look like Beast Mode was inexcusable. Thomas also caught six balls for 55 receiving yards.
Giants 24, Falcons 2
Atlanta was 0-for-3 in short yardage in this contest. They went for it on fourth-and-inches on the New York 25 on the first play of the second quarter of a scoreless game. They tried to sneak it, but failed. Luckily, they were still able to establish a lead on an ensuing safety in which Eli Manning was whistled for intentional grounding in his own end zone.
The other two miscues were much more damaging. Down 10-2 at the end of the third quarter, Atlanta attempted another another sneak from the Giants' 20. Ryan was stuffed, and the entire Falcon sideline reportedly was completely deflated. Three plays later, Manning hit Hakeem Nicks for a 72-yard touchdown, blowing this contest open.
Michael Turner was stuffed on 3rd-and-1 on the ensuing possession. The Falcons had to punt, and New York would find the end zone a few minutes later.
The two New York scores put the game out of reach, but you have to wonder what would have happened if Atlanta opted for the field goals. With two successful kicks, the team would have trailed 10-8, and the players wouldn't have been sulking on the bench.
Remember when I said that Atlanta could have been down 10-8 with two kicks? Well, if Smith used a timeout and his team was able to drive down to field-goal range, the Falcons could have led 11-10 at the end of the third quarter. It's amazing how significant inept coaching decisions can be in an NFL game.
Despite the drops, White still caught five balls for 52 yards. Julio Jones was better statistically (7-64). Poor Tony Gonzalez, who still hasn't won a playoff game in his Hall-of-Fame career, had just four grabs for 44 yards.
1. As I tweeted (@walterfootball), "Congratulations to FOX for the first ever commercial-one play-commercial-punt-commercial series."
Seriously, I can't believe FOX pull this. We often see commercial-kickoff-commercial, but I don't ever recall seeing two plays sandwiched in between three ad breaks.
2. I also tweeted this in the fourth quarter: "Since 1989, only one team has ever finished with 2 points in a game. That was the 1993 Bengals, who lost to the Patriots, 7-2."
Well, you can now add the Falcons into that dubious category.
3. My senior editor pointed out that at one point during the second half, Troy Aikman said, "Matt Ryan incompleted it."
What's up with the grammar issues from all the 90s Cowboy players?
Broncos 29, Steelers 23
No one gave Denver a chance. Bill Simmons, whom I'm a fan of, called the Broncos the worst team to ever make the playoffs. Cris Carter and Keyshawn Johnson predictably called for a Pittsburgh blowout. Several ESPN and CBS analysts stubbornly opined that they wouldn't even score a touchdown.
That certainly looked like the case when Denver mustered just eight yards of offense in the first quarter. Offensive coordinator Mike McCoy had some of the worst and most predictable play-calling I had ever seen. He called for runs on all three first downs in the opening period, and Tebow was in second-and-long as a result each time.
Things really changed after that though. Just a bit, right? Tim Tebow, whom many suggested could be benched in favor of Brady Quinn because he had struggled the past two weeks, completed many deep, accurate bombs downfield. He had just five completions at halftime, but four of them were for 30, 40, 58 and 41 yards. Not included in that were a Demaryius Thomas drop inside the 5-yard line and an Eric Decker 21-yard apparent catch that was overturned after a Pittsburgh challenge.
The Broncos led throughout, beginning in the second quarter, but it looked like they might lose this playoff battle late in the fourth quarter and overtime. The ironic thing was it would have been everyone's fault but Tebow's. Willis McGahee (19-61) fumbled at midfield prior to Pittsburgh's game-tying drive. The defense struggled to stop a hobbled Ben Roethlisberger, including Champ Bailey, who dropped an interception that went right through his hands right before Big Ben hit Jerricho Cotchery for the tying score.
I was so frustrated on the forums that I half-joked that the Pittsburgh players were idiots for calling tails during the overtime coin toss because it was clear the ref had a two-headed coin.
My playoff 2011 NFL Power Rankings, will be posted Monday morning.
NFL Picks - Dec. 12
2014 NFL Mock Draft - Dec. 11
2015 NFL Mock Draft - Dec. 7
Charlie's 2014 NFL Mock Draft - Dec. 6
2014 NBA Mock Draft - Nov. 21
Fantasy Football Rankings - Sept. 4
2013: 2013 NFL Week 1 Recap - Sept. 10
2013 NFL Week 2 Recap - Sept. 17
2013 NFL Week 3 Recap - Sept. 24
2013 NFL Week 4 Recap - Oct. 1
2013 NFL Week 5 Recap - Oct. 8
2013 NFL Week 6 Recap - Oct. 15
2013 NFL Week 7 Recap - Oct. 22
2013 NFL Week 8 Recap - Oct. 29
2013 NFL Week 9 Recap - Nov. 4
2013 NFL Week 10 Recap - Nov. 11
2013 NFL Week 11 Recap - Nov. 18
2013 NFL Week 12 Recap - Nov. 25
2013 NFL Week 13 Recap - Dec. 2
2013 NFL Week 14 Recap - Dec. 9
2012: Live 2012 NFL Draft Blog - April 26
2012 NFL Week 1 Recap - Sept. 10
2012 NFL Week 2 Recap - Sept. 17
2012 NFL Week 3 Recap - Sept. 24
2012 NFL Week 4 Recap - Oct. 1
2012 NFL Week 5 Recap - Oct. 8
2012 NFL Week 6 Recap - Oct. 15
2012 NFL Week 7 Recap - Oct. 22
2012 NFL Week 8 Recap - Oct. 29
2012 NFL Week 9 Recap - Nov. 5
2012 NFL Week 10 Recap - Nov. 12
2012 NFL Week 11 Recap - Nov. 19
2012 NFL Week 12 Recap - Nov. 26
2012 NFL Week 13 Recap - Dec. 3
2012 NFL Week 14 Recap - Dec. 10
2012 NFL Week 15 Recap - Dec. 17
2012 NFL Week 16 Recap - Dec. 24
2012 NFL Week 17 Recap - Dec. 31
2012 NFL Week 18 Recap - Jan. 7
2012 NFL Week 19 Recap - Jan. 14
2012 NFL Week 20 Recap - Jan. 21
Super Bowl XLVII Recap - Feb. 4
Super Bowl XLVII Live Blog - Feb. 4
2011: Live 2011 NFL Draft Blog - April 28
2011 NFL Week 1 Recap - Sept. 12
2011 NFL Week 2 Recap - Sept. 19
2011 NFL Week 3 Recap - Sept. 26
2011 NFL Week 4 Recap - Oct. 3
2011 NFL Week 5 Recap - Oct. 10
2011 NFL Week 6 Recap - Oct. 17
2011 NFL Week 7 Recap - Oct. 24
2011 NFL Week 8 Recap - Oct. 31
2011 NFL Week 9 Recap - Nov. 7
2011 NFL Week 10 Recap - Nov. 14
2011 NFL Week 11 Recap - Nov. 21
2011 NFL Week 12 Recap - Nov. 28
2011 NFL Week 13 Recap - Dec. 5
2011 NFL Week 14 Recap - Dec. 12
2011 NFL Week 15 Recap - Dec. 19
2011 NFL Week 16 Recap - Dec. 26
2011 NFL Week 17 Recap - Jan. 2
2011 NFL Week 18 Recap - Jan. 9
2011 NFL Week 19 Recap - Jan. 16
2011 NFL Week 20 Recap - Jan. 23
Super Bowl XLVI Live Blog - Feb. 6
2010: Live 2010 NFL Draft Blog - April 22
2010 Hall of Fame Game Live Blog - Aug. 8
2010 NFL Kickoff Live Blog - Sept. 9
2010 NFL Week 1 Review - Sept. 13
2010 NFL Week 2 Review - Sept. 20
2010 NFL Week 3 Review - Sept. 27
2010 NFL Week 4 Review - Oct. 4
2010 NFL Week 5 Review - Oct. 11
2010 NFL Week 6 Review - Oct. 18
2010 NFL Week 7 Review - Oct. 25
2010 NFL Week 8 Review - Nov. 1
2010 NFL Week 9 Review - Nov. 8
2010 NFL Week 10 Review - Nov. 15
2010 NFL Week 11 Review - Nov. 22
2010 NFL Week 12 Review - Nov. 29
2010 NFL Week 13 Review - Dec. 6
2010 NFL Week 14 Review - Dec. 13
2010 NFL Week 15 Review - Dec. 20
2010 NFL Week 16 Review - Dec. 27
2010 NFL Week 17 Review - Jan. 3
2010 NFL Week 18 Review - Jan. 10
2010 NFL Week 19 Review - Jan. 17
2010 NFL Week 19 Review - Jan. 24
Super Bowl XLV Live Blog - Feb. 6
2009: Live 2009 NFL Draft Blog - April 25
2009 Hall of Fame Game Live Blog - Aug. 10
2009 NFL Kickoff Live Blog - Sept. 10
2009 NFL Week 1 Review - Sept. 14
2009 NFL Week 2 Review - Sept. 21
2009 NFL Week 3 Review - Sept. 28
2009 NFL Week 4 Review - Oct. 5
2009 NFL Week 5 Review - Oct. 12
2009 NFL Week 6 Review - Oct. 19
2009 NFL Week 7 Review - Oct. 26
2009 NFL Week 8 Review - Nov. 2
2009 NFL Week 9 Review - Nov. 9
2009 NFL Week 10 Review - Nov. 16
2009 NFL Week 11 Review - Nov. 23
2009 NFL Week 12 Review - Nov. 30
2009 NFL Week 13 Review - Dec. 6
2009 NFL Week 14 Review - Dec. 13
2009 NFL Week 15 Review - Dec. 20
2009 NFL Week 16 Review - Dec. 27
2009 NFL Week 17 Review - Jan. 4
2009 NFL Week 18 Review - Jan. 11
2009 NFL Week 19 Review - Jan. 18
2009 NFL Week 20 Review - Jan. 25
Super Bowl XLIV Live Blog - Feb. 7
2008: Live 2008 NFL Draft Blog - April 26
2008 NFL Kickoff Blog - Sept. 4
NFL Week 1 Review - Sept. 8
NFL Week 2 Review - Sept. 15
NFL Week 3 Review - Sept. 22
NFL Week 4 Review - Sept. 29
NFL Week 5 Review - Oct. 6
NFL Week 6 Review - Oct. 13
NFL Week 7 Review - Oct. 20
NFL Week 8 Review - Oct. 27
NFL Week 9 Review - Nov. 3
NFL Week 10 Review - Nov. 10
NFL Week 11 Review - Nov. 17
NFL Week 12 Review - Nov. 24
NFL Week 13 Review - Dec. 1
NFL Week 14 Review - Dec. 8
NFL Week 15 Review - Dec. 15
NFL Week 16 Review - Dec. 22
NFL Week 17 Review - Dec. 29
NFL Wild Card Playoffs Review - Jan. 4
NFL Divisional Playoffs Review - Jan. 11
NFL Championship Sunday Review - Jan. 19
Super Bowl XLIII Live Blog
2007: NFL Draft: Day 1 Review Blog - April 28
Quarterback Rankings - June 25
NFL Kickoff Blog - Sept. 6
Chief Carl Has Lost a Step - Sept. 9
The NFL Cheated the Patriots - Sept. 16
NFL Week 3 Wrap-Up - Sept. 23
NFL Week 4 Wrap-Up - Sept. 30
NFL Week 5 Wrap-Up - Oct. 7
NFL Week 6 Wrap-Up - Oct. 14
NFL Week 7 Wrap-Up - Oct. 21
NFL Week 8 Wrap-Up - Oct. 28
NFL Week 9 Wrap-Up - Nov. 4
NFL Week 10 Wrap-Up - Nov. 11
NFL Week 11 Wrap-Up - Nov. 18
NFL Week 12 Wrap-Up - Nov. 25
NFL Week 13 Wrap-Up - Dec. 2
NFL Week 14 Wrap-Up - Dec. 9
NFL Week 15 Wrap-Up - Dec. 16
NFL Week 16 Wrap-Up - Dec. 23
NFL Week 17 Wrap-Up - Dec. 30
NFL Week 18 Wrap-Up - Jan. 6
NFL Week 19 Wrap-Up - Jan. 13
2008 Championship Sunday Diary - Jan. 20
Super Bowl XLII Live Blog - Feb. 3
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