Thursday, January 19, 2012

NFL Division Round Playoff Recap

(Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
Former #1 pick Alex Smith had the game of his life against the Saints Sunday,
leading his team on two game-winning drives in the final five minutes.

Saints vs. Niners: 36-32 Niners
Saints Player of the Week: Jimmy Graham- 5 receptions, 103 receiving yards, 2 touchdowns
Niners Player of the Week: Alex Smith- 299 pass yards, 4 touchdowns (1 rush), 103.2 passer rating

I was one, not so spectacular Alex Smith drive away from going 4-0 this week. Too bad Smith led the 49ers to not one, but two potential game winning drives late in the fourth quarter. While Brees and the Saints struggled early on, committing three turnovers in the first quarter, the Niners got on the scoreboard first and led 17-0 early in the second.

Finally, Brees and the Saints started to get going, but not until mid-way through the fourth quarter. After a 44 yard touchdown pass to Sproles, the Saints went up by one with 4 minutes to play. No need to worry though, because Alex Smith led the 49ers on a potential game winning drive, ending with a 28 yard touchdown run by the quarterback. Brees and the Saints struck back less than a minute later, after Brees found Jimmy Graham for a 66 yard touchdown. Again though, Smith led the Niners on the real game winning drive, and found his tight end Vernon Davis in the endzone with only nine seconds left, to put them up four.

So I guess it was true, the Saints really couldn't handle playing on the road outdoors. They struggled early on offensively, while the defense struggled in the end, ultimately giving up 36 points to a subpar Niners offense. Just goes to show how much Jim Harbaugh has transformed this team. Just a year ago, former coach Mike Singletary was screaming and putting down these exact players' hopes. Now, Alex Smith is rejuvenated and is one win away from going to the Super Bowl, unbelievable.

Broncos vs. Patriots: 45-10 Patriots
Broncos Player of the Week:
Patriots Player of the Week: Tom Brady- 363 pass yards, 6 touchdowns, 137.6 passer rating
Broncos Player of the Week: Willis McGahee- 73 rush yards, touchdown

Well, this game was a huge letdown. With all the hype in the world, Tim Tebow and the Broncos came into Foxborough thinking they could actually beat the Patriots. As we all know though, the Broncos' plan didn't go too well. Brady came, saw, and conquered the Broncos defense, scorching them for six touchdown passes in three quarters.

Just a week ago, Tebow threw for 316 yards and three touchdowns, but this week he completed a little more than a third of his passes, for only 136 yards and no touchdowns. Yes, he played poorly, but can the loss be blamed on him?

Sorta. The Broncos weren't scoring more than 30 points on the Patriots at a best case scenario, and the fact that the Patriots already had 35 at the half, shows how bad the Broncos defense was. Then there's the Broncos offensive line, or lack of. Tebow was sacked five times, hit eight times, and was running for his life on almost every play. With no time in the pocket, how do you expect a subpar, young, inexperienced quarterback to have success playing in New England? You don't

Texans vs. Ravens: 20-13 Ravens
Texans Player of the Week: Arian Foster- 132 rush yards, touchdown
Ravens Player of the Week: Joe Flacco- 176 pass yards, 2 touchdowns, 97.1 passer rating

The Ravens deserve to advance to the AFC Championship game, after playing a very rough and physical game, but IF Matt Schaub was at quarterback, the Texans would be playing the Patriots next week. TJ Yates had plenty of opportunities on Sunday, but failed to complete half of his passes, failed to throw any touchdowns, and succeeded in throwing three passes to the other team. Put it this way, when your quarterback has a passer rating of 28.8, your not winning the game, especially against the Ravens.

The Ravens caught a break though, Ray Rice was not nearly as productive as everyone thought, and the overall offense was weak. The defense played great, but how can you measure greatness against an inexperienced team in general, with a quarterback who has played less than 10 games in the NFL? Ravens are going to need to step up next week, if they want to keep it close with the explosive Patriots

Giants vs. Packers: 37-20 Giants
Giants Player of the Week: Hakeem Nicks- 7 receptions, 165 receiving yards, 2 touchdowns
Packers Player of the Week: Referee Bill Leavy

Quarterback A: Completed 21/33 passes, threw for 330 yards, 3 touchdowns, 1 interception, with a passer rating of 114.5
Quarterback B: Completed 26/46 passes, threw for 264 yards, 2 touchdowns, 1 interception, with a passer rating of 78.5

Guess which quarterback was Eli Manning, and which was presumed MVP Aaron Rodgers. That's right, Eli Manning shined last Sunday, handling the Packers just their second and final loss of the season. It was Rodgers for a change though, who really struggled to find receivers in open space, and give his team the win.

Even with referee Bill Leavy giving the Packers every call possible, the Giants were unbeatable. The way New York is playing right now is scary for any team in the league.

Good news for Rodgers? New Miss USA, Laura Kaeppeler wants his number, that's about it though.

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