Sunday, January 22, 2017

NFL. You can't win if....

You're the Green Bay Packers and you only force the Atlanta Falcons to punt once in the entire game. Up and down the field they went, scoring galore. Nobody's going to mistake Falcon quarterback Matt Ryan for Tom Brady or Joe Montana, but if you let him throw for 400 yards and 4 TDs, you better put up a bunch of points in return. And how about a banged-up Julio Jones, wide receiver supreme for the Falcons, not only gutting it out, but racking up 170 yards and 2 TDs while shredding your secondary? Not good.

True, Aaron Rodgers and the Pack had been on a roll, winning their last 8 in a row, but there's this little thing called defense that comes in pretty handy once in a while.

Bottom line -- the Packers go home and Atlanta moves on to the Super Bowl. And good for them and the city.

After all, what have they had to celebrate over all the years? Out of 50 Super Bowls, the Falcons made it there just once -- and lost, back in 1999, to the Denver Broncos. That was some guy named Elway's swan song. Out of all those super-duper baseball teams back in the 90s, which featured a lot of future Hall of Famers, the Braves only managed a single World Series championship. Good grief, Atlanta lost its NHL team years ago.

So it's hard to root against anything Atlanta -- although....

Coca Cola is headquartered there. Remember their super-bonehead move a few decades ago? They took the #1 selling soda pop on the market -- and changed the formula!!!!  Instead of having its age-old bite, the "new Coke" was a sweet, syrupy, wimpy version. Coke fans everywhere revolted. Finally, the company relented and brought back "Coca-Cola Classic" -- the old stuff. In the meantime, the company had watched its market share get hammered, much to the delight of rival Pepsi. What quietly went unnoticed was the syrupy glop finally disappeared from the market, while the "Classic" was dropped from the original. Now all is back to what it was, but they never have fully recovered to be in the dominant position they once were. Which just goes to show -- once again -- if it ain't broke, don't mess with it. What were they thinking?

It's definitely hard to win if -- you're the Pittsburgh Steelers, and can't seem to score touchdowns. You might get away with it against a team like the Kansas City Chiefs, and they did, by only kicking 6 field goals in an 18-16 playoff victory last week. But KC isn't known for a high octane offense either. They rely mostly on defense, special teams play, and a running game. Quarterback Alex Wilson is OK, but he's not "IT". The Steelers snuck by them -- barely.

But to do the same thing against the high-flying New England Patriots is a whole different can of worms. Besides having the #1 defense, the Pats have #12, a guy named Brady. One way or the other, this Brady character is usually going to account for at least 3 or 4 touchdowns in a game. You can't keep up with just field goals.

True, the Steelers scored an early TD, but then their place kicker immediately missed the point after. It was as if their mood was -- here we go, here we go -- oops -- what the hell was that? And they wouldn't get it into the end zone again until garbage time, already getting blown out by 27 points. Game long since over.

Idle thought: You have to give credit to both these teams. Not a single penalty between them in the entire first half. That's great coaching and player discipline. When's the last time a game featuring the Detroit Lions went more than 2 or 3 minutes without a flag being thrown? Has it ever happened? False starts, offsides, holding, interference, delay of game, it's always something.

Know what must have driven Pittsburgh head coach Mike Tomlin crazy? Two receivers for the Patriots, Chris Hogan and Julian Edelman, caught over 300 yards worth of passes between them. And it's not like they're Jerry Rice and Calvin Megatron Johnson running around out there. Hogan and Edelman are two shifty little white guys, but man, they lit up the Pittsburgh secondary like a pinball machine.

This might be lesson learned time for Tomlin. Recall last week, after defeating the Chiefs, he was filmed referring to the Patriots as "a-holes". This no doubt served as bulletin board fodder for the Pats, as it they needed any more motivation. Note to Tomlin -- yes, they probably all have one -- let's hope it's ONLY one -- scary thought -- but it's probably not a good idea to refer to them in such a way, even if you think it's in private. These days, hardly ANYTHING stays private for long.

After the game, an easy victory for the Pats, there was that Brady guy on the sideline talking to a breathless reporter. He first wanted to say "hi" to his mom and dad. OK. But then he referred to them as beautiful.

Wait a second. His dad is beautiful too? Wow, toss in Giselle and that's some kind of pretty family.

Idle thought: When they get their monthly electric or gas statement, can it be referred to as -- gasp -- the Brady Bill?

At any rate, like the Packers, the Steelers are going home too. Tom Brady marches off to his seventh -- count em -- seventh Super Bowl in quest of victory number 5, which would break the tie he's in with the aforementioned Montana and Terry Bradshaw for the winningest Super Bowl QB ever. Love him or hate him, bet against Brady at your own peril. He most definitely is "IT".

And what a game it should be, if one likes offensive fireworks -- and what fan doesn't? Between Brady and Ryan, with their respective receivers corps, this could boil down to which team has the ball last. In other words, it's hard to imagine this Super Bowl will be a low scoring affair, although one never knows.

Bring it on.....


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