Seattle Seahawks 35, Washington Redskins 14:
I'd like to give Santana Moss the Sportsman of the Year Award for his valiant effort Saturday afternoon. Moss stopped running his route and didn't even attempt to break up Todd Collins' first interception because was so tired from exerting so much energy. He dropped numerous balls because he was carrying the team. Moss wasn't at all responsible for Washington's loss to Seattle; he was the only one trying hard.
In case you couldn't tell, I was being sarcastic. Moss looked more Randy than Santana, exerting any sort of energy on about 20 percent of the plays. His lacking effort was extremely disturbing and horribly disgusting. In addition to a pass rusher and offensive line depth, the Redskins need a new No. 1 receiver.
But I'm not blaming Santanarandy Moss for everything - just a handful of significant plays. After all, if Moss had attempted to break up the first pick, the Redskins would have had a puncher's chance with two minutes left. But Collins just doesn't have the arm strength. That throw was terrible, and it was the first huge mistake he made since taking over for Jason Campbell in Week 14.
Campbell played well until that point. The offensive line didn't really do him any favors, as it didn't have a prayer of blocking the Seahawks' dynamic defensive front. And what was up with not snapping the ball at the end of the first half?
If I were a Redskin fan, I'd be so frustrated right now. The drops. The lacking effort from my No. 1 receiver. The line's inability to block. The quarterback's Poly-O String Cheese arm. The 30-yard illegal touch penalty that led to Seattle's first touchdown. The drunk kicker's errant 30-yard field goal...
Even the Seahawks' ineptness went against the Skins. Shaun Alexander's first-quarter fumble that was returned into Seattle territory was wiped out because both of his knees were down. I've been making fun of Alexander all year, calling him a fat slob who went down at the first sign of contact. If he weren't such a sissy, he wouldn't have fell so quickly, meaning the ball probably would have slipped away prior to his body hitting the turf.
That said, Alexander was pretty solid. He didn't look like he was busy looking for the hot-dog vendor in the stands. But Seattle will go as far as the injured Matt Hasselbeck will take them. If his hand's OK, the team has a great shot at upsetting the Packers.
Jacksonville Jaguars 31, Pittsburgh Steelers 29:
Two unbelievable comebacks. When the Steelers took a 29-28 lead in the fourth quarter, I thought the Jaguars were done. I likened this game to the Pittsburgh-Cleveland tilt five years ago when the former came back from a huge first-half deficit. But David Garrard's 32-yard run on an extremely crucial 4th-and-2 was almost legendary. He took the Jaguars down to the 11, where they kicked a chip-shot field goal. Jacksonville hasn't been around all that long in the NFL, but that scamper has to be the best play in franchise history.
Of course, I thought Jacksonville had this game in the bag at the end of the second quarter. In fact, I fell asleep at halftime and barely watched the third quarter. The Jaguars were up 28-10, and Ben Roethlisberger was getting sacked on every other play (four sacks in the first 25 minutes.) In hindsight, I shouldn't have underestimated a Super Bowl champion, even though he was playing like Rex Grossman in the first half and throwing into double coverage like there was no tomorrow.
I have no idea why Mike Tomlin went for two the first time around. I know he was trying to draw the deficit to within three, but what purpose does that serve? By doing that with more than 10 minutes remaining in regulation, you're telling your team that you're playing for a tie - or your math skills rival Emmitt Smith's grammar. At any rate, it was way too early and unwarranted not to kick the extra point.
Speaking of poor calls, what in the world were the Steelers thinking on the 3rd-and-6 when they were trying to protect a one-point lead with three minutes left? In case you missed it, Pittsburgh, instead of running the ball or heaving it downfield, called an awkward odd off-tackle draw for Roethlisberger. Roethlisberger didn't gain any yardage and was swallowed up by the opposing defense. Why were the Steelers afraid to throw the ball? Roethlisberger commanded the offense to 19 points in a 20-minute span. He won a Super Bowl. There was no reason not to be aggressive there.
New York Giants 24, Tampa Bay Buccaneers 14:
I already knew what my lead was going to be after the first quarter. The Giants couldn't gain a single offensive yard. Eli Manning looked like he was going to hurl all over the Wal-Mart smock he had on under his jersey. Tom Coughlin was a turnover away from slitting someone's throat. New York didn't even have a first down until 17 minutes into the game.
However, everything changed. Manning began to hit his passes. He started showing a bit of emotion on incompletions. The Giants finally put some points on the scoreboard. By the fourth quarter, Manning was headbutting his own linemen in excitement. He was unstoppable; he finally turned the corner and won a meaningful contest.
Now, before this matchup, I always had the mentality that if Eli beat me in any important game, even if it were Chinese Checkers, I'd jump off a bridge. Hopefully there aren't many suicides in Tampa this week.
So, what should these Buccaneers fans yell while falling to their death? How about, "Why didn't you play your starters Gruuuuddddeeeennnn!?!" I questioned this last week. Tampa Bay didn't play its starters in the final six quarters of the season, and looked flat and discombobulated after their initial scoring drive. The Giants, meanwhile, were extremely sharp in the wake of going all out against the Patriots. I'm not saying that was the only reason New York won, but it was a major factor. Tom Coughlin deserves credit for keeping his squad sharp.
But this is actually a sad day for me. I can no longer make fun of Eli. I think I'll join the Buccaneer fans in their mass bridge-jumping. Goodbye, cruel world.
San Diego Chargers 17, Tennessee Titans 6:
Well, Marty Schottenheimer... Norv Turner did what you couldn't do, which is win a playoff game in San Diego. You can go shoot yourself now.
When the Titans were up 6-0 and it looked like the Chargers weren't going to muster anything offensively, I was planning on writing that it was kind of cool that Eli Manning won his first playoff game before Philip Rivers. Rivers is a classless jerk, yelling at everyone on the sideline like Ryan Leaf. And remember when he continuously chirped, "Bye Baby!" to Jay Cutler across the field? Ridiculous. Eli seems like the kind of guy you wouldn't mind chilling with. Rivers, meanwhile, resembles some rich kid whose dad pays the other parents so their children hang out with him.
What's up with me having the game covered in the fourth quarter, watching my kicker miss a chip-shot field goal and losing against the spread? What happened in the Titans-Chargers tilt also occurred in the Seahawks-Redskins matchup. If this happens next week, I swear... Scottenheimer and I will both be on suicide watch. Then again, I already jumped off a bridge with Buccaneer fans. Oh well.