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Playoffs and Layoffs: Black Monday for the NFL

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“It’s not whether you win or lose, but who gets the blame.” Blaine Nye

After 17 weeks, 256 games and 11,985 points scored the NFL regular season ended last night when Dallas Cowboys’ Quarterback Kyle Orton was intercepted by Brandon Boykin.  That pass ended the Cowboys playoff hopes and season and sent the Philadelphia Eagles to the playoffs as champions of the NFC East.

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It was an exciting end to the season. The season went down to the wire for the Eagles, the Green Bay Packers who came from behind to stun the Chicago Bears to take the NFC Central and the San Diego Chargers who swiped the last AFC Wild Card when Baltimore and Miami lost.

The playoffs are now set. The Wild Card round will feature the AFC South Champion Indianapolis Colts (11-5) play the number 5 Wild Card seed Kansas City Chiefs (11-5) and the AFC Central Champion Cincinnati Bengals (11-5) face off against the number six seed San Diego Chargers (9-7). In the NFC the Eagles (10-6) will square off against the number six seed New Orleans Saints (11-5) while the NFC Central Champion Green Bay Packers (9-7) will face number five seed the San Francisco 49ers (12-4). The AFC West Champion Denver Broncos (13-3)  AFC East Champion New England Patriots, NFC South Champion Carolina Panthers (12-4) NFC West Champion Seattle Seahawks have first round byes.

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Among the teams left out of the playoff picture from last season are last year’s Super Bowl Champion Baltimore Ravens, the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Atlanta Falcons.

As good as some teams were some were very bad and with badness went pink slips. As legendary coach John McKay said of his Tampa Bay Buccaneers years ago: “We stunk. We blocked bad; we were terrible on defense and our kicking game made up for it by being absolutely horrible. I saw nothing that delighted me, we ran on the field fairly well.”

Kansas City Chiefs vs Washington Redskins

But the bigger news today are the firings of coaches. Since Sunday night five coaches had been fired. The pink slips started Sunday night with the Cleveland Browns (4-12) who fired first year head coach Rob Chudzinski, that moved surprised many observers. The firings began in earnest this morning when the Minnesota Vikings (5-10) fired Leslie Frazier, the 7-9 Detroit Lions fired 5th year coach Jim Schwartz after a late season collapse. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-12) fired their Head Coach Greg Schiano and General Manager Mark Dominick. Lastly the controversy ridden Washington Redskins who finished a dismal season at 3-13 fired the highly paid Mike Shanahan despite still owing him another $7 million dollars. Washington owner Daniel Snyder will be looking for his 7th Head Coach since 1999.

Some player’s like Washington’s fullback Darrel Young blamed themselves for their coach’s demise. Young said “We failed a Hall of Fame coach. It was a lack of execution by the players this year.”

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Not counted among the Black Monday casualties was Houston Texan’s head coach Gary Kubiak who was fired December 6th. The Texans who had made the playoffs last year finished the season 2-14, the worst record in the league. The Texans had lost 11 games in a row after winning their first two of the season and had been pre-season favorites to get to the Super Bowl.

The Redskins and Texans were both so bad this year that John McKay’s statement on when the Buccaneers had lost their record setting 26th straight game: “Three or four plane crashes and we’re in the playoffs.”

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Other coaches could still be fired, rumors are swirling about a number of others but one who seems to be safe is Cowboy’s Head Coach Jason Garrett who still has the public backing of GM and Owner Jerry Jones. However it is expected that several assistants will be let go. Likewise Rex Ryan of the Jets has survived. Oakland Raiders Head Coach Dennis Allen could be gone soon, he has not been offered any contract extensions and finished with a 4-14 record in 2013. Rumors also swirl about Miami Dolphins Head Coach Joe Philbon after a disappointing fish to the season.

So things will be interesting both on and off the field for the next month.

Peace

Padre Steve+

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Another Wild “Wild Card” Weekend

Marshon Lynch runs for a spectacular touchdown with Matt Hasselbeck following

Well what can we say; it was another wild “Wild Card” weekend that defied predictions and expectations.  As my regular readers know I am not a big football fan being it is not the one true religion of the Church of Baseball, however since it is mildly interesting I do occasionally watch it just so I can converse with those that are faithful followers of that heretical sect. Despite the fact that I don’t follow it religiously I do know a lot about the sport just as I would as a Priest study other denominations.

This weekend was a wild one with a shocker, an upset, a blowout and a hard fought battle decided by crappy field goal kicking.

The Shocker: Seahawks 41 Saints 36: I like chaos in footfall and tend to cheer for the underdogs just to see chaos happen.  I was not disappointed.  Yesterday as I continued to recuperate from the crud that has been kicking my ass I laid on the couch and watched the Seattle Seahawks beat down the heavily favored Super Bowl Champion New Orleans Saints. I think that this was the big story of the weekend. The Seahawks who won the NFC West with a losing record were double digit underdogs at home to the reigning NFL Champs. Never before have I seen a team so disrespected and with good reason even get into the playoffs. However, I wanted them to win and was overjoyed with the hurt that they put on the Saints. The score was 41-36 but it did not seem that close despite heroic performance by Saints Quarterback Drew Brees.  The Seahawks were 10 point underdogs at home facing the defending Super Bowl Champions and they pulled the biggest post season upset that we have seen for some time. Final score Seahawks 41 Saints 36.  I love an upset.  The lowly Seahawks who have nothing to prove will travel to Chicago to play Da-Bears in the Divisional match up.

Nick Folk and the Jets celebrate after his game winning field goal against the Colts

The Upset: Jets 17 Colts 16: The Colts were favored but Rex Ryan and crew finally defeated his personal nemesis Payton Manning and his Indianapolis Colts in the closing seconds of Sunday’s game. The Colts have always dominated the Jets or had Manning steal the game in the closing minutes causing Ryan to remark that this game was “personal.” Once again it looked like Manning was following the same script and that Ryan and his Jets would go down to defeat but it was not so.  With the score 14-13 Jets Manning took the Colts into Field goal range to set up a 50 yard field goal by the future hall of fame kicker Adam Vinatieri to put the Colts up 16-14. With only 53 seconds left it was up to Mark Sanchez and crew to get the job done and Ryan trusted Sanchez and crew to get the team into position to win. Antonio Cromartie returned the kickoff 47 yards and Sanchez took the Jets to the Colt 18 in five plays to set up the winning field goal. The remarkable thing about the play to set up the field goal was that Ryan and his offensive coordinator listened to Wide Receiver Braylon Edwards for a pass play instead of a safe run which they favored. Sanchez connected with Edwards to set up Folk and win the game. It was a stunning blow to the Colts who expected to win at home.  Ryan who had talked about the game being personal was gracious in victory “We’ve been in some close ones this year, but to come out and pull this game out against a great football team, against a great quarterback, it was a Herculean effort…I mean really, I’m just thankful for the men I coach. Thankful for the two backs we got, that pounded it in there. Thankful for that coaching staff. Thankful for Nick Folk, and I’m thankful that I finally got to beat Peyton Manning.” The Jets now travel to Foxborough to play their Eastern Conference rival and nemesis the New England Patriots.

Joe Flacco led the Ravens to a 30-10 win over the Chiefs

The Blowout: Ravens 30 Chiefs 10: The Ravens went on the road as a wild card to face the AFC West Champion Kansas City Chiefs.  The Ravens were favored but the Chiefs did keep the game close through the first half but in the second half the Ravens’ defense strangled the Chiefs’ offense allowing only 25 yards in the final two quarters. The Ravens controlled the ball on offense for 41 minutes and 44 seconds with Joe Flacco throwing for 248 yards with 2 touchdown passes.  The Ravens’ defense held the Chiefs’ to just 8 first downs and forced 5 turnovers.  The Chiefs were simply overmatched, outgunned and outplayed.  The Ravens will now head to Pittsburgh to continue their rivalry in the AFC Divisional playoff.  For the Chiefs it was their 7th consecutive playoff lose dating to 1994.

The end of Michael Vick’s magical season

The Battle: Packers 21 Eagles 16: Michael Vick’s magical season came to an end on Sunday night against the Green Bay Packers. In a game marked by tough play the Packers led 21-10 with 8:50 left in the game and Vick engineered a 13 play 4 minute 48 second 75 yard drive to make the score 21-16. The Eagles failed on a two point attempt abut managed to get the ball back with 1:45 left in the game on their 34. Vick brought them back to get the ball down the field to the Packer 27 when with 33 seconds left he threw an interception in the end zone which ended the Eagles’ season.  Aaron Rodgers ran the Packer offense well and the Pack finally produced a running game.  Vick did not have a bad game throwing for 292 yards and a touchdown while running for 33 and a second touchdown. The game was decided by two missed field goals as Pro Bowl Philadelphia kicker David Akers missed from 41 and 34 yards.  The Packers move on to Atlanta to play the Falcons in the Georgia Dome where Atlanta has dominated this season.

Once again the Wild Card round did not disappoint and it will be interesting to see what surprises take place in the Divisional Playoff games this week.

Peace

Padre Steve+

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