Black Quarterback: Divisional Round Review
By Brandon Simmons
Falcons Defense Came up
The Atlanta Falcons beat the Seattle Seahawks 36-20 and it was unlike any other Falcons win this season. While the offense showed up with 36 points, the defense is who really made the statement. Seahawks Russell Wilson would have loved having a good rhythm, but it was hard to do so when the Falcons’ front 7 is pressuring you constantly. Whether it was the young stud Vic Beasely, Jr. or the veteran warrior Dwight Freeney, Wilson had very little success being comfortable in the pocket by succumbing to 3 sacks, 7 hits and hurries. But is this the defense that Atlanta needs to move forward?
The Falcons beat the Seahawks down in the 2nd half but Seattle only got beat by the issues they were already having problems with. As I mentioned in the Divisional Previews, The Seahawks had a ton of problems with their offensive line. The pressure that was applied on Wilson helped stop key plays, which nobody will ever turn down in the playoffs, but is the defense prolific enough to make stops on more than “key plays”. The Green Bay Packers and Dallas Cowboys are strong on offense and Atlanta has to commit their defense to being just as tough. It might not work out where they outscore opponents in every game. There could be some moments where a defensive stop will be needed to protect a close lead at the end of the game.
Patriots got Shook
The New England Patriots beat the Houston Texans 34-16, which fulfilled the record setting spread opened up the oddsmakers. However, the Texans defense literally fought for a chance of playoff survival in that game. After a kickoff return by Patriots running back Dion Lewis made the score 14-3 for New England, Houston’s defensive unit got busy. Texans linebacker Whitney Mercilus, was merciless on the Patriots offensive line and Tom Brady as he got himself a sack and quite a few hits. Texans defensive back Andre Bouye enjoyed a couple of interceptions on the evening, which was the most quarterback Tom Brady has thrown in a game all year. He actually came into the game with highest regular season touchdown-interception ratio in NFL history with 28-2. The Patriots got shut down running the ball, including a goal line stand right before the half.
The Texans defense was all over Brady but just not enough for the whole game. There were times when the Patriots quarterback would feel the pressure but was able to chunk the ball wildly and the receiver would still catch it, as the Texans secondary had bad positioning on the play. But the Texans saw very little help from their offense. Rookie wide receiver Will Fuller dropped a pass in the end zone that could have given the Texans a much needed touchdown. Tight end C.J. Fiedorowicz dropped a pass as well. Those plays made it hard to capitalize on the opportunities that the defense handed them. For the first 30 minutes that mattered very little to the Texans, and the next 30 minutes saw how much that first mattered very little to the Patriots. They still managed to get 34 points and win the game convincingly. Wide receivers Chris Hogan and Julian Edelman each had 100 yards receiving.
The Patriots played their toughest defense all season and it showed. Depending on how the playoffs go, they might not play a tougher defense for the rest of the way, and they did pretty good against this one.
Aaron Rodgers sends Cowboys Packing
Green Bay Packers beat the Dallas Cowboys, not off of a lucky catch, but off the magic that is quarterback Aaron Rodgers. It was no question Rodgers would be sharp, considering how he played within recent months, but nobody figured that Rodgers would make the plays that he did to get the team in a position for the game winning field goal.
The Cowboys did just about all that they could to stop Rodgers. The Cowboys front 7 got after Rodgers and tried to either collapse his pocket or push him outside of it. They even got a sack on him before he threw the clutch pass to Cook, to get set up for field position. They made sure the Packers could not get any help off of the ground game. Rodgers even threw an interception at the end However, a majority of the time they pushed him out of the pocket, he made throws down the field and kept life into drives in which he faced tired defensive linemen. The Cowboys’ offense definitely put some pressure on Green Bay. Rookie QB sensation Dak Prescott threw for 300 yards and 3 touchdowns, including running for the 2 point conversion that tied the game at 28 and leading the 2minute drive to tie it at 31.
But no matter obstacle the Cowboys threw out there , Rodgers was playing on a whole other level. His 356 yards and 4 touchdowns overlooked the fact that the Packers had no real movement on the ground and the defense blew an early 18 point lead. Those have been two weaknesses for the Packers all year but Rodgers has managed to play to the point where they can be overlooked. He will definitely have his hands full trying to outscore the Atlanta Falcons’ offense next weekend.
Steelers Barely Made It
How in the hell did the Pittsburgh Steelers beat the Kansas City Chiefs scoring only 6 field goals? Well that’s easy to when your offense is a possession offense. The Chiefs are good at playing like they’re going for it on 3rd and 5 but never seen making deep plays; unless it involves tight end Travis Kelce But even he shared in the plethora of drops that the Chiefs’ offense seemed to have spread around. He was still the leading receiver, putting up 5 catches for 77 yards while none of the wide receivers had more than 50 yards receiving. The way they ran the ball on the drive at the end to score their last touchdown, looked more like a drive to ice a game rather tie it and get the win.
As for the Steelers, they did their usual damage on offense. Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger threw for 224 yards, running Le’veon Bell 108 yards and wide receiver Antonio Brown had 108 receiving yards; but none of those stats provided any touchdowns. They had 4 trips to the red zone and botched them all. It was great they were able to move the ball on a strong defense that Kansas City has, but if you can’t waste opportunities for touchdowns and expect to win, regardless of who is guarding the end zone.
The Conference championships are this weekend and the scoreboards just might be in overtime. The Atlanta Falcons and Green Bay Packers are going to be in full arcade mode for the NFC championship. The game will be in the Georgia Dome, so no weather will be a factor in both teams’ aerial attack. Neither squad has a defense worth writing home about so there should be nothing short of the NBA Finals. But until then…I’ll holla.
Powered by Facebook Comments