The Greatest Weekend Ever

The NFL finally did itself proud. After a six-month miasma of malaise, mistakes and mishaps, it had a divisional playoff for the ages. The old guard, Ryan, Brady, Brees, and Ben, challenged the new, Bortles, Keenum, Mariota and Foles, and the results were magnificent.

No game could match the Minnesota Vikings nipping the New Orleans Saints at the gun on a 61-yard miracle throw during which the only player who might’ve stopped it made a decision to not attempt a tackle for fear of interference being called. Because games cannot end on a defensive penalty, had one been called, such penalty would’ve allowed the Vikings to line up and kick a chip shot field goal for the win. The Saints player was damned if he did, damned if he didn’t. I’ll cut him some slack on that one.

Nobody could’ve asked for more than the Steelers’ Ben Roethelsberger gave in trying to atone for an early season loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars in which he was picked off five times. In another “the last team to have the ball wins,” Ben threw for an unbelievable 468 yards and five touchdowns in a 45-42 thriller. But, inexplicably in a game where the Steelers were playing catch-up all game after falling behind 21-0, when two fourth-and-one situations in Jaguar territory screamed for the 6’5″, 250 pound Ben to quarterback sneak, he did not. (Ben is 18 for 19 successful on fourth down sneaks in his career.) Those two failed moments will gnaw in the craw of the Steeler faithful for a very long time.

In wind-whipped Philadelphia, the Eagles’ Jake Elliott kicked three field goals, none more important than the last-second, first-half, fifty-three yarder that brought Philadelphia within one going into the locker room. Nothing gives a team more momentum than scoring just before the half. Quarterback Nick Foles, a fighter if ever there’s been one, kept Philly alive with two superb long second-half drives, one with the wind and one against it. Atlanta, with Matt Ryan finding Julio Jones time and again, stayed close. In the final minute, the Falcons had the ball at the Eagles nine, first-and-goal, down 15-1. After moving to the two on fourth down, Ryan called a rollout right, looking for the tall and lithe Jones against a defender six-inches shorter. Jones slipped making a sideline cut in the end zone and fell down. The defender, as is his right once the receiver falls down. held him down for a second as Jones desperately tried to rise for the catch. Failing to regain his full balance, Jones was unable to grab Ryan’s pass as it flew through his open arms. After blowing a 28-3 lead to the Patriots in last year’s Super Bowl, the Falcons are going to spend another off-season in deep soul searching.

After giving up an early score to the Tennessee Titans, New England dispatched them with their general error free football, en route to an impressive 35-14 win and must be considered a prohibitive favorite against the Jaguars.

But, then again after last week, anything can happen.

11 responses to “The Greatest Weekend Ever

  1. I agree, anything can happen, but I think this weekend also showed what many, especially here in NE, believe and that is that the organization is almost flawless. The errors by Steelers staff, ridiculous. And for all the talent in Atlanta, that team is a mess, I don’t think they will be back next year. As to MN, a great team, but, heck, act like you expected to win. You tell me, but it appears to me that 3 teams are just happy to be where they are, and one expects to win it all, like you say, we shall see.

  2. It should be another great weekend. On paper, it looks to be a sure Patriot win and a squeaker with Philly and the Vikings. I love January football!!!

  3. Three amazing games and I know I’m in the minority here but watching the Pats make mincemeat out of their opponents is also quite entertaining.

    Ratings may be down on the season but this post-season has gone a long way in making sure fans still watch.

    That Vikes-Saints game is all anyone could talk about the next day.

  4. Agree with you both!

  5. Barbara salloum

    Jim. You are RIGHT. Anything can happen and IT DID!

  6. Clarita Bourque

    Just wait till next year!
    Sr. Clarita Bourque and the New Orleans Saints ….

    • You sound like a Brooklyn Dodger fan
      of my youth. Every year they’d lose to
      the hated Yankees and say, “Wait until
      next year.” It finally came in 1955⚾️⚾️

  7. Robert Chambers

    Hey Coach,
    I respectfully disagree with the pass for Williams misplay. How about those Jags after that abysmal win over Buffalo to go out and beat the Steelers. Falcons just seem destined for this lot in time as the Eagles did nothing spectacular but win. And the Patriots’. I am hopeful for a better Jags performance than the one i witnessed and mentioned in an earlier blog back in 1997. Wish I were there to see which team prevails this day!

    Thanks as always Coach

    • Williams should have allowed Diggs to catch the pass and then held him from going out of bounds. Time would have expired. Hindsight is always 20-20 but he made a split second decision that backfired. If he hadn’t knocked his teammate down in the process, the teammate might’ve gotten to Diggs after the catch. Tough, tough loss.