This weekend the NFL Playoff swung into high gear, and many were stunned by the Bengals and the 49ers moving on. I was not. I am a Browns fan of course, but I am happy for the Bengals as Joe Burrow is really terrific, and my underdog mentality takes over and you can't help but feel good for them and their long suffering fans.
This weekend's games should have reminded all of us, what many us forget during the season, with all the ESPN and NFL Network watching we do, that big-time football is a TEAM game. The post season in the NFL is very different than games in October. The stakes are higher, players are more focused, the stage is bigger, the weather is different, and there is a lot of money on the line.
The media is so quarterback obsessed you would think that that is all you need to win a title. And you DO need a good one to do so. But you also need good health, and 52 other guys that want to win. There is a formula to win in the post season and it involved the entire team and good decisions from the sidelines that are becoming more rare these days.
This weekend the Titans have themselves to blame for the loss. If they simply kick the extra point in the first half, they are leading 17-16 with :40 seconds to play in the game with the games best running back Derrick Henry. You're not passing, not turning it over and you win. Terrible coaching decision. You "go for two" when you have too, not when you want to in the post season.
The Packers have themselves to blame as well. A routine field goal blocked and a punt blocked for a TD AT HOME! San Fran plays great defense all night and moves the ball just enough at crunch time - By RUNNING it, and they win. Packers special teams? THE WORST in the NFL. Eventually it was going to catch up with them. Aaron Rodgers can't do one thing about that.
As great as Bills/Chiefs game was from a TV perspective, the Bills have themselves to blame - period. How on earth do you NOT defend in the final :13 seconds of a game that means this much. A pooch kickoff runs clock. Then simply hold receivers at the line of scrimmage two times. Take the penalties of 5 yards each and about 5 seconds off the clock each play. You would then have to defend one single play from about 70 yards and you win! Coaching again.
And BTW - The NFL overtime rule is fine. The NFL is a TV driven entity, and in my opinion during the regular season, they would prefer games over ASAP, so they don't interfere with games coming on next on TV. It also just about eliminates the possibility of a tie. The harsh reality is, if you simply play a little defense and make a stop, you are totally in the drivers seat. Sports and life are inherently "unfair."
And the Bucs/Rams game. Another great game on TV, but there is no real good reason why that game shouldn't have been in overtime. Bucs again simply blew it with just a few seconds on the clock at home. Brady can only do so much.
All of these games were really great games and very good for the NFL. And in the end, we are reminded again that football is indeed a TEAM sport.
And also, this weekend proves yet again, that this stuff "just doesn't happen to the Browns" This stuff happens to every team.
Can't wait for Sunday!