NFL 2010-2011–Divisionals Recap

Last week was the Wildcards. This week we have the Divisionals. All 4 of these games are rematches, with both AFC matchups being rubber matches between hated division rivals.

Enough waxing poetic. It is time for the controlled violence of playoff football. Here is the NFL 2010-2011 Divisionals recap.

Baltimore Ravens @ Pittsburgh Steelers–This is why we watch football. A bare fisted slobberknocker that has had bone chilling collisions, and a quarterback who played with a broken nose the last time these teams met. For those who love old time, old school football at its best, this is it. Identical 12-4 regular seasons, a split season series with identical points 27-27 makes for a dead even matchup.

Lardarius Webb returned the ensuing kickoff to midfield. Mike Tomlin challenged the return, and a replay showed that Webb’s elbow came down at the Baltimore 35 yard line. On 3rd and 5, Joe Flacco hit Todd Heap for 18. Yet the drive stalled, and on 4th and 7 from the Pittsburgh 39, John Harbaugh decided to punt.

The Steelers soon faced 3rd and 12 at their own 18. Ben Roethlisberger found Mike Wallace for 20 yards. On the next play Big Ben went deep to Wallace again, and what looked like offensive pass interference was called on the defense for a 41 yard gain. On 3rd and 1 from the 16, Redman gained 4. Rashaard Mendenhall did the rest, gaining 8, 2, 1, and then the final tough yard to have the Steelers up 7-0 after the 10 play, 80 yard, 6 minute drive.

The Ravens took over on their own 32. On 3rd and 3, Flacco hit TJ Houshmanzadeh for 9. On 3rd and 15 from the Pittsburgh 47, it was Flacco who went deep and saw defensive pass interference lead to a 33 yard gain. Ray Rice then barreled over people on the next play for a touchdown to tie the game 7-7.

The Steelers took over at their own 10, and chaos ensued. Roethlisberger went back to pass, pumped a couple of times, and then saw the ball come out. The players all stopped thinking it was an incomplete pass. There was no whistle blown, and a Ravens defender eventually picked it up and ran it in for a touchdown. Tomlin challenged the call, but the replay clearly showed the ball bouncing off a helmet before Big Ben’s arm moved forward. Tomlin lost the challenge, as the Steelers were out of challenges and trailing 14-7 at the end of the first quarter.

An exchange of punts had the Steelers starting at their own 4. From their own 12, Mendenhall got hit and fumbled. The Ravens recovered at the Pittsburgh 16. On 3rd and 7, Flacco found Rice for 8. On 3rd and goal from the 4, Flacco hit Heap for the touchdown as the Ravens led 21-7 on the road. Roethlisberger led the Steelers to a 4th and 7 at the Baltimore 25 with less than one minute left in the half. Shaun Suisham came in for a 43 yard field goal, which was no good.

In the third quarter after a punt, The Ravens took over and soon faced 3rd and 14 at their own 18. Flacco found Ray Rice, who got hit and fumbled. The Steelers took over at the Baltimore 23. Mendenhall gained 14, and Big Ben hit Heath Miller for the 9 yard touchdown to have the Steelers within 21-14. Pittsburgh got the ball back at their own 33, and Big Ben led them to the Baltimore 37. Yet a sack of Roethlisberger killed the drive.

Yet the Ravens took over at their own 10, and Flacco quickly wen deep and threw an interception. Ryan Clark returned it 17 yards to the Baltimore 25. Roethlisberger hit Mendenhall for 13 yards. On 3rd and 6 from the 8, Roethlisberger hit Hines Ward for the tying touchdown as the 21-21 game had 90 seconds left in the third quarter.

Things went from bad to worse for the Ravens as the ensuing possession resulted in Flacco fumbling the snap. The Steelers took over at the Baltimore 23. On 3rd and 11 on the first play of the fourth quarter, Big Ben hit Brown for 10. On 4th and inches from the 13, Big Ben took the quarterback sneak. On a 2nd, 3rd, and finally 4th effort, Big Ben bulled forward for the yard. On 3rd and 6 from the 8, Roethlisberger was sacked. Suisham nailed the 35 yard field goal as the Steelers led 24-21 with 12 1/2 minutes left in regulation.

The Ravens saw their next drive end when a 3rd and 11 resulted in Flacco running for his life and being chased out of bounds for an 8 yard loss. With 8 minutes left in regulation the Steelers got the ball back at their own 6. The Steelers punted, and Marcus Smith returned it for a go ahead touchdown with 6 minutes to play. Before the extra point could be kicked, the play was called back by an illegal block.

The Ravens still had the ball at the Pittsburgh 30, and Flacco hit Heap to set up 1st and goal at the 8. On 3rd and goal at the 6, a quick rifle from Flacco was dropped in the end zone. Billy Cundiff kicked the 24 yard field goal to tie the game 24-24 with 4 minutes left.

The Steelers took over at their own 35. On 3rd and 10, Roethlisberger found Ward for 12. Roethlisberger was then sacked for a 9 yard loss. Big Ben then found Sanders past the marker, but Sanders was blasted by Ed Reed for an incompletion.  On 3rd and 19, Big Ben went for the bomb and found Brown at the 4 yard line at the 2 minute warning.

A critical defensive holding penalty set up 1st and goal at the one. On 3rd and goal at the 1, with 1:39 to play, the Ravens took their 2nd timeout. It all came down to one more collision. Mendenhall met 3 Ravens defenders at the goal line, and Mendenhall won. There was a flag after the touchdown as the Steelers were called on offense for a personal foul. They had to kick off from their own 15 with a 7 point lead.

For some reason the Steelers tried a squib kick, as the Ravens took over at the Pittsburgh 48 with 1:27 left to play. and one timeout. On 1st down Flacco threw high and was lucky it was incomplete. On 2nd down Flacco went deep and would have been intercepted if not for a defensive play by the receiver. Flacco was then sacked setting up 4th and 18 with 1:09 left as the Ravens took their final timeout. The Steelers were not sitting back. They were bringing the house.

Flacco fired a perfect pass to TJ Houshmanzadeh past the marker. Houshmanzadeh dropped it. He was open. It just bounced off his chest. Just like that, the thriller was over. The Steelers moved on and the Ravens were done. This game was every bit as competitive as it was made out to be, and the hitting was hard. Yet just like the game a few weeks ago, the Steelers made one more play. That was enough for the win. 31-24 Steelers

Green Bay Packers @ Atlanta Falcons–Mike Smith is your average non-descript white guy who looks like a guy named Mike Smith. Mike McCarthy is similar, but with more girth. They may look bland, but they head up high powered offenses with Aaron Rodgers and Matt Ryan. In the only time this will be mentioned, Brett Favre was on both of these teams, proving that life goes on.

The Falcons took over at their own 20 to start. On 3rd and 6 Ryan hit Roddy White for 10. On 3rd and 5 from the Atlanta 41, Ryan hit White again for 11. On 3rd and 10  from the Green bay 48, a completed pass was short of the first down and Atlanta punted. The Packers took over at their own 11.

On 3rd and 7 Rodgers found Greg Jennings over the middle. Jennings split the seams and looked like he was off to the races. Yet somewhere on the way to a 93 yard touchdown the ball was tomahawk chopped out of his hand. Grimes ran laterally for awhile before finally losing 2 yards as the Falcons took over at the Green Bay 48.

On 2nd and 6, Ryan found Jenkins for 22 yards. On 3rd and 13 from the Packers 25 after a sack, Ryan found White for 12 yards to set up 4th and inches. Mike Smith decided to go for it. Jason Snelling got hit but got the yard. On the next play Michael Turner ran over defenders and got pushed forward by his own blocker into the end zone to have the Falcons up 7-0.

The Packers took over at their own 19. After an offsides, the Packers turned to the ground game. Starks had a pair of 4 yard gains, and Jackson gained 13. On 3rd and 6 from the Atlanta 41, Rodgers hit Jennings just before getting hit himself. Jennings caught the reception for 18 yards as the first quarter ended. On 3rd and 3 from the 16, Rodgers hit Nelson for 8. Rodgers hit Nelson for the 6 yard touchdown as Nelson stretched just enough for the ball to hit the pileon and tie the game 7-7. The 13 play, 81 yard drive consumed 8 minutes of clock. The Falcons needed only a few seconds to retake the lead as Eric Weems returned the ensuing kickoff 102 yards to put the Falcons back on top 14-7.

The Packers took over at their own 8 yard line. Rodgers hit Jennings for 6 and then found Donald Driver for 24 yards. Rodgers went back to Jennings for 12 more to midfield. A short pas to Jones led to a tightrope on the sideline that went for 34 yards. On 3rd and 3 from the 9, Rodgers was sacked. Yet instead of 4th and 15, illegal contact on the defense gave the Packers 1st and goal at the 4. On 2nd down, an incomplete pass was nullified by defensive pass interference as Mike SMith threw his clipboard down. For a pasty fella, he is occasionally an animated Caucasian. On 1st and goal at the 1 Starks went over the top and got rocked backward. On 2nd down Jones got it in off right tackle to tie the game 14-14.

With 6 minutes left in the half, the Falcons took over at their own 35. On 2nd and 6 Ryan hit Brian Finneran for 11 to midfield. Roughing the passer tacked on 15 more.  Turner gained 7, and Ryan hit Jenkins for 13 more. A false start and a sack of Ryan had the Falcons facing 3rd and 21. Still in field goal range, Ryan went deep to the end zone and was intercepted by Germond Williams with 2 1/2  minutes left in the half.

From the Green Bay 32, Rodgers hit Jennings for 20 yards as the Packers took their 1st timeout with 1:44 left in the half. On 3rd and 2 from the Atlanta 40, Rodgers found Driver for 20 yards as the Packers took their 2nd timeout with 48 seconds left.  Rodgers then went to Jones in the end zone with the exact same ball that Ryan had intercepted earlier. Yet again the Packers won the battle as the touchdown reception had the Packers up 21-14.

With 25 seconds left in the half the Falcons faced 3rd and 6 at their own 39. Ryan went deep and the Falcons benefited from defensive pass interference, moving the ball 23 yards. Illegal contact added 5 more yards, but from the Green Bay 26, Ryan got belted down hard. The Falcons took their last timeout with 10 seconds left. A field goal would have been 53 yards, but Mike Smith wanted to run one more play. Ryan fired a sideline pass, and disaster struck. Ryan was intercepted by Williams again, and he raced 70 yards the other way. In front of a shellshocked home crowd, a potential 21-17 game instead had the Packers leading 28-14 going into the locker rooms.

The Packers took over in the third quarter and quickly faced 3rd and 13 from their own 17. Rodgers hit Jones for 15 and Nelson for 9. Starks gained 13, 9, and 2. On 3rd and 7 from the Atlanta 32, Rodgers hit Nelson for gains of 14 and 11. From the 7, Rodgers scrambled for the touchdown himself to complete the 12 play, 80 yard, 6 1/2 minute drive as the Packers had a commanding 35-14 lead.

The Falcons took over and soon faced 3rd and 8 at their own 29. Ryan hit Jenkins for a 24 yard gain, but Mike McCarthy challenged the call. The catch was reversed and ruled incomplete, forcing the Falcons to punt. A terrible 21 yard shank had the Packers starting at midfield.

On 3rd and 6 from the Atlanta 46, Rodgers hit Nelson for 8. On 3rd and 5, Rodgers hit Driver for a 22 yard gain down to the 11.  Rodgers hit Kuhn for a 7 yard touchdown. Although Kuhn may have been knocked out just short of the pileon, Mike Smith did not challenge the call. With 3 minutes left in the third quarter, the Packers were giving the Falcons a 42-14 walloping.

The Falcons did get a touchdown less than one minute into the fourth quarter, but what appeared to be a perfectly executed onsides kick was ruled touched by the Falcons after 9 yards. The Packers took over at the Atlanta 39. Mason Crosby attempted a 50 yard field goal that doinked off the upright with 13 minutes still remaining. It did not matter as 90 seconds later facing 3rd and 1 at their own 45, Ryan fumbled the snap on the quarterback sneak for the 3rd Atlanta turnover. It led to another field goal attempt, which Crosby barely made.

5 minutes still remained, but that was enough time for an Atlanta fumble. The 4th turnover had the Packers at the Atlanta 33. Aaron Rodgers was done for the night after an insane 31 of 36 for 366 yards and 3 touchdown passes. Matt Flynn came in to hand the ball off. It led to another field goal to complete the scoring.

Mike Smith and Matt Ryan have led the Falcons to the only 3 straight winning seasons in the entire half a century of the franchise. Some teams have had more than 15 straight winning seasons. Yet despite those 3 straight winning seasons, the Falcons have 0 playoff wins in that span. As for the Packers, 2 straight road wins will have them awaiting the Seattle vs Chicago game to know where the NFC Title Game will be. Also, 1993 saw the top seeds reach the Super Bowl. Then for 15 years, at least one top seed went down in flames until last year, when Indy and New Orleans got to the big show. This year the top seed in the NFC is now out. 48-21 Packers

Seattle Seahawks @ Chicago Bears–The worst team to ever make the playoffs still won a playoff game last week. The Seahawks now face a Bears team that, despite being the # 2 seed, is still suspect. These teams were fighting for the right to get destroyed either in the NFC Title Game, or even worse, the Super Bowl. Seattle began by gaining 9 yards on a run, but ended up punting anyway. The Bears also needed only 3 plays as well. Jay Cutler went for the bomb to Greg Olsen for a 58 yard touchdown as the Bears quickly led 7-0.

Matt Hasselbeck led the Seahawks to a 4th and 1 at the Bears 40. Pete Carroll decided to punt and play field position. The Bears took over at their own 9. Cutler quickly hit Johnny Knox for 18 yards, but the Bears got no more and punted. Seattle took over at their own 36. They punted again, and Devon Hester returned it 26 yards to midfield. On 2nd and 5, Cutler found Greg Olsen, who raced down the sideline 33 yards. On 2nd and 1 from the 3, Cutler threw a terrible pass and was lucky that the defender simply dropped it. On 3rd and 1 Matt Forte got stopped. Lovie Smith called a timeout. Cutler took the quarterback sneak for the first down. Forte then leapt over the top and got knocked backward. Taylor finally ran it in from 2 yards out off tackle to have the Bears up 14-0 late in the first quarter.

The second quarter began with the Seahawks converting on 3rd and 5, only to have offensive holding nullify everything and resulting in a punt. The Bears took over at their own 37 and Cutler quickly hit Olsen for 22 yards. Taylor gained 8 and 3. On 3rd and 4 from the Seattle 24, Cutler found Bennett for 13. On 3rd and 5 from the 6, Cutler executed the quarterback draw to perfection and broke the plane of the goal to have the Bears up 21-0.

The Bears got the ball back again and from their own 21, Cutler found Forte for 26 yards. Forte ran for 11. An illegal crackback block ended the drive, but a perfect punt coverage had the Seahawks starting at their own one. Shockingly enough, they punted. For some reason, the second half was played. The snow stopped, which matters somewhere to somebody.

The Bears in the third quarter began their second drive at their own 30. On 3rd and 2 Cutler scrambled for 8. On 3rd and 5 from the Seattle 39, Cutler hit Knox for 15. On 3rd and 1 at the Seattle 15, Forte gained 2. On 3rd and 6 from the 9, Cutler scrambled around the end and made it past the pileon to have the Bears up 28-0.

Seattle finally had a spark of life when Leon Washington returned the ensuing kickoff 62 yards to the Chicago 30. On 4th and 9 from the 12 with 2 minutes left in the third quarter, Pete Carroll opted for a field goal just to avoid the shutout.

Early in the fourth quarter Cutler was intercepted, and the Seahawks took over at the Chicago 33. On 4th and 1 Hasselbeck was intercepted, but defensive pass interference kept the drive going. On 3rd and goal from the 2 Hasselbeck hit Mike Williams for the score. The Seahawks were down 28-10 with a full 11 1/2 minutes left in regulation. Yet the Seahawks got no closer. With the Bears facing 3rd and 1 at the Seattle 39, a perfect play action fake by Cutler allowed him to go deep to Davis for the touchdown that slammed the door shut. Seattle added a pair of garbage touchdown when a sure Chicago interception was bobbled by the defender and plucked at the shoe string by Mike Williams. Yet the final score was not nearly as close as the game itself, a blowout.
Pete Carroll has the offseason to improve Seattle while Order was restored in the NFL, albeit one week late. Lovie Smith and the Bears will face archrival Green Bay in the NFC Title Game in Chicago. The winner of that game gets the George Halas Trophy, but it is the Lombardi Trophy both teams covet.  35-24 Seahawks

New York Jets @ New England Patriots–Rex Ryan said he did not take over the Jets so he could kiss Bill Bellichick’s rings. Yet the Evil Hoodie saw his Patriots destroy the Jets 45-3 a few weeks ago. It was time for the talking to stop and the football playing begin.

The Jets began at their own 32, but on 3rd and 5 from the New England 43, Mark Sanchez fired incomplete. The Patriots took over at their own 16. Tom Brady hit Danny Woodhead for 19 yards, and Brandon Tate ran for 11 more. On 3rd and 3 from the Jets 47, Brady hit Gronkowski for 9.

With the Patriots in total control facing 1st and 10 at the Jets 28, Brady was intercepted by Harris. Harris had a wide open field in front of him, but the slow rumbler was dragged down at the 12 yard line after a 58 yard return. The Jets completely wasted the opportunity by moving backward and then watching Nick Folk miss a 30 yard field goal. The kick on further analysis actually looked good, but Rex Ryan did not try to challenge it.

The Patriots took over at their own 21. Brady was sacked, but on the next play a defensive facemask had the Patriots back on the move. A 10 yard pass from Brady to Wes Welker had the Jets just shy of midfield. From the Jets 40, Brady went deep to Alge Crumpler for 28 yards. Brady went back to Crumpler in the end zone, but Crumpler dropped it. On 3rd and 5 from the 7, Brady was sacked. Shane Graham connected from 34 yards out near the end of the first quarter as the Patriots led 3-0.

Antonio Cromartie returned the kickoff 37 yards to the Jets 40. On 3rd and 5 Sanchez hit Cromartie for just enough as the Jets ended the first quarter at midfield.   On 3rd and 5 from the Patriots 45 Sanchez again missed an open receiver and the Jets punted again. The Patriots faced 3rd and 5 at their own 25 when a blindside blitz knocked Brady for a 10 yard loss. The Jets took the punt and began their next drive at the New England 48. Sanchez went deep to Braylon Edwards for a 37 yard gain to set up 1st and goal at the 8. Sanchez then found Ladanian Tomlinson in the flat for the touchdown as the Jets led 7-3 with 10 1/2 minutes left in the half.

Brady misfired on 3rd and 2 on the next series as New England went 3 and out. The Jets took over at their 23. Tomlinson fumbled a wildcat snap and fell on it. On 3rd and 4 Sanchez threw incomplete but defensive pass interference kept the drive going at the Jets 40. On 3rd and 5, Sanchez hit Santonio Holmes just past midfield. Bill Bellichick unsuccessfully challenged the call. On 3rd and 5, Sanchez hit Keller for 4. On 4th and 1 from the Patriots 41, Rex Ryan decided to punt.

The Patriots took over at their own 20, and on 3rd and 1 Brady gained 3. Brady hit Green-Ellis for 4 more at the 2 minute warning. Brady threw incomplete again on 3rd and 4 as the Patriots punted again. It was a fake punt, but the wildcat snap was fumbled. The Jets took over at the Patriots 37 with 1:06 left in the half. Tomlinson gained 16 up the middle, and a defensive injury stopped the clock with 50 seconds left. Tomlinson gained another 5 and got out of bounds. Sanchez fired a perfect pass that was dropped when the receiver got blasted. On 3rd and 5 from the 15 Sanchez again fired a strike to Braylon Edwards, who carried defenders in the end zone for a 15 yard touchdown. The Jets were 30 minutes and 33 seconds away from a shocker as they led 14-3.

The Patriots returned the kickoff to their own 45. Brady found Deion Branch, but Darrell Revis ripped it out of his hands for an incompletion. An offensive personal foul set up one last chance at a Hail Mary, but the crowd booed as Brady took a knee.

The Patriots got the ball to start the second half at their own 25. On 2nd and 2 from the New England 45, Woodhead gained 1. On 3rd and 1 Green-Ellis got blown up in the backfield for a one yard loss. The Jets took over at their own 20. On 3rd and 5 from the 39, a draw play gained only one yard and the Jets punted. The Patriots took over at their own 20. On 2nd and 10 from the 33, Brady got leveled and fumbled. New England retained possession, but on 3rd and 22 a short pass led to another punt. The Jets took over at their own 25. On 3rd and 1 Greene gained 4, and 20 on the next carry. Yet on 4th and 6 from the New England 38, Ryan decided to punt.

From their own 20, Brady went deep to Gronkowski for 37 yards. On 3rd and 9, Brady hit Branch for 12 and again for 16. The Jets called timeout to slow things down. It did not matter, as a 7 yard pass to Welker set up 1st and goal at the 2. Brady had all kinds of time as he hit Crumpler for the touchdown. Sammy Morris took the wildcat snap on the 2 point conversion and leapt over the top as the Patriots trailed 14-11 at the end of the third quarter.

The Jets went very conservative and bled the clock. 3 straight runs did not gain a  first down, but the Patriots took their second timeout with 3:45 to play. Julian Edelman returned the punt 41 yards to the Jets 43. Brady quickly hit Welker for 9, Woodhead for 4, and Gronkowski for 12. With 2:21 left, the Patriots faced 3rd and 10 at the 18. A short pass to Welker only gained 2 yards, and Welker was tackled inbounds. The Patriots tried to get the field goal team in before the 2 minute warning, and the kick bounced off the upright. However, the 2 minute warning and the whistle came first. From 34 yards out, Shane Graham connected as the Patriots were within 21-14 with 1:57 to play.

With 2 timeouts left, Bellichick decided on the onsides kick. A perfect kick straight up the middle was batted and kicked around as everybody had a shot at it. Despite defenders knowing to just fall on the d@mn ball, these are the Jets. Everything with them is high risk. Antonio Cromartie picked up the ball and raced 23 yards to the New England 25. Greene Ran for a 16 yard touchdown as the Jets led 28-14 with 1:40 to play.

Yet the Patriots would not go down quietly. Brandon Tate returned the ensuing kickoff 23 yards to the New England 41. Brady marched the Patriots down the field with lightning speed, and with 30 seconds left in the game, Brady hit Branch for the 13 yard touchdown. Another onsides kick was again kicked well up the middle, but Eric Smith fell on it for the Jets as the shocking upset.

Both top seeds this year have gone down one and done. The Evil Empire of Football has officially had a stake driven through its heart. Braylon Edwards did blackflips and Rex Ryan had his team back up every word of talk. Bellichick and Ryan shared a lengthy and warm hug after the game. The Jets are going to the AFC Title Game at Pittsburgh, where they won a few weeks ago. For the second straight year they are in the AFC Title Game on the road. Yet so far that has not stopped them at all. They used to say Just End The Season. Now Gang Green has everyone saying J-E-T-S Jets Jets Jets Jets Jets! 28-21 Jets

Sunday, January 23rd, 2011 brings us a pair of fine football games.

NFC Title Game: Noon PST: Green Bay Packers @ Chicago Bears

AFC Title Game: 3:30pm PST: New York Jets @ Pittsburgh Steelers

Are you ready for the conference title games??!!!!!!!!!

Let’s get it on!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


One Response to “NFL 2010-2011–Divisionals Recap”

  1. Oh yeah BABY! The Jets were great today! Now, I’m a realistic man, and I would not bet on the 2010 Jets beating the Colts, the Pats, and the Steelers in a row, but man if that happens, I will smile like an sob for a long, long time.


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