Week 19 NFL Game Recaps
49ers 36, 49ers 32
Well, you'd have to call this a coming-of-age performance for Smith. He really struggled at times, especially in the second and third quarters, but his two late drives were really impressive. When the Saints went up 24-23, I was pissed that they scored with four minutes on the clock because New Orleans has accumulated way too many bulls*** front-door covers this year. I figured Smith would either go three-and-out or commit a turnover, allowing the Saints to go up by at least four points.
So much for that. Smith proved just about everyone wrong, finishing 24-of-42 for 299 yards and three passing touchdowns. He also had a rushing score with a couple of minutes remaining where he looked like Tim Tebow, sprinting out left and down the field for 28 yards.
Brees' picks both came prior to intermission, and they were part of four Saint first-half turnovers. Donte Whitner forced a fumble on Pierre Thomas on the opening drive on what was one of the hardest hits I've ever seen. This site's senior editor said it looked like something out of Mike Tyson's Punch-Out. Courtney Roby would later muff a kickoff and then fumble it. There was also a fifth give-away in the third quarter when Darren Sproles coughed up another fumble.
Despite all of this, the Saints were in position to win this contest, which is a testament to how good Brees and all of his weapons are. It's a shame that we won't have a Packers-Saints rematch.
The offensive line will also have to perform better. Smith had no pass protection when he was in third-and-long situations. He was sacked or pressured almost instantly nearly every time, even fumbling twice.
Patriots 45, Broncos 10
I've never seen an offensive line look so Jekyll and Hyde in a span of a week. The front kept Tim Tebow completely clean against the Steelers, yet the Patriots were in the backfield on almost every single passing down. Tebow had no chance whatsoever, especially with his receivers unable to separate. Denver had 14 negative plays - the most by any team in the NFL this year.
On the rare occasions that Tebow was able to get a clean release off, his receivers would drop passes. The worst infraction of this nature came from last week's hero, Demaryius Thomas, whpo dropped what would have been a first down in New England teritory on a third down during the team's second drive. I counted five drops in total.
There was a brief stretch in which Brady struggled in the middle of the first half, heaving an interception on one throw, tossing another near-pick and then missing an open Wes Welker. But he recovered on the next drive after the Broncos drew to within 14-7, leading his team on an eight-play, 52 yard drive to give his team another two-score advantage.
Hernandez also caught four balls for 55 yards and a touchdown, but that paled in comparison to Rob Gronkowski's 10 receptions for 145 yards and three scores, which tied a postseason record. The Broncos doubled Gronkowski last time and really limited him, but they decided to play zone this time, which is a big no-no against Brady. But it's not like they could have done anything to stop New England, save for drugging Brady's offensive linemen.
Ravens 20, Texans 13
Let's review each aspect:
- Flacco went 14-of-27 for 176 yards and two touchdowns, but those numbers don't tell the whole story. He missed open receivers and was very tentative in the pocket. He took five sacks (2.5 each from J.J. Watt and Brooks Reed). Basically, if Flacco's name was "Tim Tebow," ESPN buffoons like Bomani Jones, Merril Hoge and Cris Carter would be calling him the worst quarterback of all time after this performance. The difference between Flacco and Tebow though is that the Baltimore quarterback did have time to throw on some occasions, so his performance has to be more discouraging to Raven fans than what Denver supporters feel about their signal-caller.
- It doesn't help that Flacco once again had awful play-calling. Cam Cameron idiotically forgot to involve Ray Rice early on. Rice finished with 21 carries, gaining 60 rushing yards in the process, but had just four catches. Even worse, Cameron was guilty of some really predictable play-calling at the goal line in the fourth quarter. He did a good job with this in the first quarter, signaling in a play-action pass from Flacco to Kris Wilson, which resulted in a touchdown, so I don't understand why Cameron went back to stupidity when he could have sealed the deal. No, wait. I do understand what happened. Cameron is just that completely inept.
- What happened to Baltimore's run defense? I figured it would be better with Ray Lewis healthy, but Arian Foster managed to rush for 132 yards and a touchdown on 27 carries. This made things easier for T.J. Yates.
Of course, Yates' turnovers made things easier for the Ravens. Yates went 17-of-35 for 184 yards and three interceptions. He could have been picked off on five occasions, but Ed Reed dropped two interceptions in the first half.
Yates' problem wasn't accuracy; in fact, most of his throws were on the money. The issue was that he predetermined where he wanted to go on some of his attempts. He stared down Andre Johnson far too often, including the last real drive of the contest when he foolishly heaved a ball downfield despite being at midfield and having ample time remaining on the clock.
Giants 37, Packers 20
Green Bay's meltdown was truly amazing. The team committed so many unforced errors that had the Lambeau crowd groaning in disgust on nearly every possession. It's almost as if the players ha d the same lack of urgency they typically do in the preseason. Here's the laundry list of dumb mistakes:
- Drops: The Packers had a whopping eight drops by: Greg Jennings (2), Jermichael Finley, James Starks, Tom Crabtree, Ryan Taylor, Ryan Grant and Jordy Nelson. Drops plagued the Packers in their loss to the Chiefs, and that issue festered once again.
- Aaron Rodgers missed a wide-open Jennings for a touchdown on the opening drive. The Packers would have to settle for a field goal.
- John Kuhn lost a fumble in Giants' territory during the second quarter.
- Rodgers then lost a fumble of his own in New York territory on the opening drive of the third quarter.
- Rodgers had a wide-open Finley on a third down with 13 minutes to go, but missed him. He was sacked on the following play, which turned the ball over on downs.
- Grant fumbled the ball away down 10 in the fourth quarter. Chase Blackburn returned it inside the Green Bay 5-yard line. Eli Manning threw the game-sealing touchdown on the very next play to give his team a 30-13 lead.
If you're not familiar with Leavy, he's the inept/crooked ref who botched/fixed the Steelers-Seahawks Super Bowl. I don't know how the hell he's still permitted to officiate playoff games. He needs to be fired because allowing him to work another game would be completely irresponsible. He's either bought or just completely awful at his job.
That wasn't even the craziest Nicks score. Manning launched a Hail Mary on the final play of the first half, and New York Nicks came down with it in the end zone. The Packers covered the Hail Mary very poorly - almost as if they had no idea it was coming. Nicks finished with seven grabs for 165 yards and two touchdowns. Mario Manningham (3-31) also scored. Victor Cruz (5-74) was also a factor.
My playoff 2011 NFL Power Rankings, will be posted Monday morning.
2013 Fantasy Football Rankings - May 23
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2014 NFL Mock Draft - May 21
Charlie's 2014 NFL Mock Draft - May 20
NFL Picks - Feb. 3
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
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2012 NFL Week 13 Recap - Dec. 3
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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
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2011 NFL Week 17 Recap - Jan. 2
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Super Bowl XLVI Live Blog - Feb. 6
2010: Live 2010 NFL Draft Blog - April 22
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Super Bowl XLV Live Blog - Feb. 6
2009: Live 2009 NFL Draft Blog - April 25
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Super Bowl XLIV Live Blog - Feb. 7
2008: Live 2008 NFL Draft Blog - April 26
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Super Bowl XLIII Live Blog
2007: NFL Draft: Day 1 Review Blog - April 28
Quarterback Rankings - June 25
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Chief Carl Has Lost a Step - Sept. 9
The NFL Cheated the Patriots - Sept. 16
NFL Week 3 Wrap-Up - Sept. 23
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NFL Week 18 Wrap-Up - Jan. 6
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2008 Championship Sunday Diary - Jan. 20
Super Bowl XLII Live Blog - Feb. 3
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