Rolfe Knows That January Is NFL Primetime
Rolfe Knows That January Is NFL Primetime
Scientists are cloning people; the Republicans are coming to town in 2004; Judge Judy is making $25 million a year; but none of it matters, because it's NFL Playoff time. And what an opening weekend it was for this year's tournament- two blowouts, but entertaining blowouts, on Saturday, and two games that were heading towards being routs before the home teams stormed back to win on Sunday.
Enough has been written all week about the Giants collapse that I don't really have to rehash it here all over again. So I'll weigh in with just a couple of thoughts. First off, the game never should have came down to that last snap. The Giants offense and defense both disappeared in the second half. How much money does Jason Sehorn get to be the 3rd defensive back? And he is that useless? Speaking of money, Michael Strahan's demands to renegotiate for so much more dough before the season meant that guys like Jessie Armstead (a linebacker that the G-Men could have used) and Morten Anderson (a kicker that they definitely could have used) had to be let go.
Don't forget some of the other team "leaders." One week after his fumble-itis almost kept his team out of the playoffs, Tiki (which I think is French for "Butterfingers") Barber ripped his teammates on special teams over and over. "You're really only as good as your weakest link," Barber told reporters, "and our weakest link was our kicking game." Charming.
Not to be outdone in the class department, rookie Jeremy Shockey managed to throw ice water on a kid in the stands, but couldn't hold on to a possible game-clinching TD pass in the 3rd quarter. Shaun Williams not once, but twice, cost his team 15 yards for going after Terrell Owens in retaliation for T.O.'s punk antics with a minute left in the game. Smart.
And we can't forget punter/holder Matt Allen, who is taught in practice on a bad snap to either kneel on the ball right away or call timeout, or throw it away. Of course, he did neither, but afterwards bad-mouthed the snapper and blamed the coaches for not reminding him that it was third down. Maybe during the off-season, Allen can work on not only taking responsibility for his own actions, but also his punting average, which ranked 30th overall in the NFL. So much for not rehashing the Giants woes.
In the other wildcard game on Sunday, the Browns once again made things close. Unfortunately for them, it was because they blew a 17 point lead to the Steelers, committing stupid penalty after stupid penalty, and wound up losing 36-33. One night earlier, the Falcons pulled off a major upset, beating Brett Favre and the Packers at Lambeau Field, 27-7. It was the first Packers loss at home this year; their first home loss in the playoffs ever; and the first time Favre lost a home game where the temperature was below 34 degrees. (How's that for a historical perspective?) The other game on Saturday featured the New York Football Jets playing the Indianapolis Colts.
The Jets won their first playoff game since 1998 with a 41-0 drubbing of the overmatched Indy squad. Their offensive weapons were clicking: Chad Pennington completed 76% of his passes with 3 TD passes; Curtis Martin and LaMont Jordan (2 TD's) ran all over the place; the WRs made the big catches. On the other side of the ball, the D shut down the vaunted Triplets- Manning was only 14 for 31 passing; E. James rushed 9 times for 14 yards; and Marvin Harrison had just 4 catches after averaging 9 per game during the regular season.
Next up for the Jets- their newest oldest rival, the Oakland Raiders. Sunday will be the fourth time in 53 weeks that Gang Green travels to Oaktown. The Raiders have won 2 out of the 3 matchups, and have stormed into the playoffs, going 7-1 in the second half of the season. Yet for some reason the Silver and Black started whining earlier in the week, claiming that they aren't getting enough respect in the media. Speaking of which, why do NFL players constantly claim that they don't care what anyone says about them, then start crying that they are being dissed in the papers and on ESPN? Which is it, guys?
Jets (+5.5) over RAIDERS- Gang Green is hitting on all cylinders (whatever that means), and will not be intimidated in the "Black Hole." Biggest problem could be the monsoon-like weather that is being predicted for the Bay Area on Sunday. That would neutralize the Jets speed on offense, their one big advantage in this game.
TITANS (-4) over Steelers- Pitt was lucky to win last week. Now Coach Cowher is complaining about having a short week. If he is making excuses this early, it's probably not a good sign. Rolfe's MVP candidate Steve McNair had a week off to get healthy, and he should be able to put up enough offense to win in a low-scoring affair.
EAGLES (-7.5) over Falcons- Philly QB Donovan McNabb is finally back, but there were questions on whether he should start, or if the team should keep going with third-stringer A.J. Feeley, who was 4-1 as a starter. Rolfe doesn't understand how anyone could possibly think of not going with McNabb, one of the top 5 players in the NFL.
49ers (+5) over BUCCANEERS- Rolfe picked the Bucs to go to the Super Bowl before these playoffs started, but only if Brad Johnson is healthy. Reports during the week said that BJ should be fine, but Tampa could be in for a close one with a San Fran team that was unstoppable (albeit against the Giants) in the second half last week. If the Niners come out from the beginning in that no-huddle offense, they could wear down the highly acclaimed Bucs D, and make this a game.
(Home Team in CAPS)
PLAYOFF RECORD: 3-1