Monday, January 16, 2017

Now we're down to four

The divisional round of the NFL playoffs had everything you could've wanted. Unfortunately, that included a certain crybaby pulling the diva card mid-game.

On the NFC side, West division champion Seattle sought to take one  more step toward their third Super Bowl berth in four years. The South champions, the Atlanta Falcons, had other ideas. Erstwhile beef jerky salesman Richard Sherman ended up looking like a prize chump against Atlanta star Julio Jones, and QB Matt Ryan outplayed his counterpart, Russell Wilson, as the Falcons avenged an earlier loss on the road in eliminating Seattle.

I think we all knew that the Green Bay-Dallas game would be a shootout from the get go. Not quite, but awfully close, as Dallas clawed back from an 18 point hole and took the lead at one point. Late in the 4th quarter, Packers kicker Mason Crosby hit a career long--and team postseason record--56 yard field goal. Dallas' Dan Bailey answered with a 51 yarder to tie it at 31, but the Cowboys left just enough time on the clock for Aaron Rodgers to make one last rally. Crosby nailed the game winner as time expired, and the top seeded Cowboys, who lost their regular season finale two weeks earlier, fell, 34-31.

In the AFC, weather forced the Chiefs-Steelers game to primetime. NBC, covering the game, said thank you very much, and so did a nationwide audience treated to another thriller. Chris Boswell kicked six field goals for all of the scoring for the North champs. Kansas City thought they had tied it with a 2 point conversion, but that was negated by a holding penalty that left Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce fuming at the officials. Replays clearly showed, however, that it was a legitimate foul, and Pittsburgh escaped with a 18-16 win.

That for Steelers fans was the good news. The bad? The AFC title game is in Foxborough.

Everyone expected New England to blow out Houston again in a repeat of a week 3 game. For more than a half, that wasn't the case. Albany product Dion Lewis scored three touchdowns, one on a 98 yard kickoff return, but the shine of Lewis' achievement was dulled by the diva antics of his spoiled child of a quarterback, Tom Brady.

In the 3rd quarter, Brady was fortunate to get a pass off before getting hit by Houston's Jadeveon Clowney. Brady popped up and whined to the referee. Later in the quarter, when Clowney laid another hit on Brady, he ended up getting flagged for "roughing the passer". Former Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis, last seen on ESPN, reminded Brady via Twitter what game he's playing, clearly disgusted by Brady's childish complaining.

Star players and their coaches often work the refs to get calls going their way. That, too, is part of the game in football as well as in basketball. However, for someone like Brady, who has the reputation for being a spoiled brat, win or lose, that luxurious privelege should be taken away. All he did, in this writer's opinion, was make a case for the league to strip New England of their home field advantage and force the title game to a neutral site, making the Patriots have to actually earn their 7th Super Bowl berth in the Brady era. As if.

Picks later in the week.

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