The second weekend of the NFL playoffs is in the books and I have to say with the exception of the Saints-Vikings game, I was less than enthralled with what I watched.
My beloved Chicago Bears didn’t even sniff the playoffs — then again neither did the evil Packers — so I’m just watching the postseason as a fan who loves the game.
Aside from my efforts to stay warm and as healthy as possible — having one’s vehicle forcibly pushed into an embankment by a larger vehicle due to an icy road is a health hazard — watching football ranks right up there with fine dining.
I watched some ugly football Saturday and Sunday. The Falcons forgot how to play offense and the Steelers forgot how to play defense. The Titans forgot to show up - but more about that later.
What’s that? The Eagles played great defense and the Jaguars played great offense? I don’t mean to take anything away from either of those teams but in all honesty, they each won a game they should not have won.
Yes, I know that’s why they play the game. I also recognize unprepared and unmotivated teams when I see them.
The Falcons and Steelers have the rest of the offseason to ponder what went wrong and who to blame. And when it comes to blame, there’s plenty of that to go around for both teams.
Look on the bright side guys: You get a headstart on scouting for the NFL Draft or as I like to call it, the Jimmy Haslam/Cleveland Browns Open.
As for the Titans, when was the last time a playoff team looked so overmatched as they were (particularly in the second half) against the Patriots? Talk about not ready for primetime. Tennessee wasn’t ready for late night or early morning.
I understand the injury to quarterback Marcus Mariota changed the play calling and limited what the Titans offense could do. That does not explain the inability of the defense to provide a speed bump to the Brady Bunch.
There were a couple of blatantly bad or missed calls in the first half that impacted the game. I did think it was a bit much when the referee consulted with Bill Belichik on what to call on the Titans. Excessive breathing is apparently now a 15-yard penalty. Be careful, they will tack on five more for the eye roll.
Quick rabbit trail: The game highlighted several things the competition committee needs to look at in the off season. First, clearly define what constitutes a catch without all of the extraneous information (i.e., was it moving when he hit the ground, did the ground help him maintain control, the location of the sun on the equator, total amount of the GDP multiplied by 47.3, and of course, the price of eggs in China). Common sense will let you know if it was a catch or not.
Secondly, put a time limit on reviews. How long does it take to look at a replay? Either the guy was inbounds or not, he was across the goal line or not, it was a fumble or not - you get the picture.
Third, allow penalties to be reviewed. If it’s blatant, there’s no need to take a look at it but if it’s close, why not? The job of an official is to get the call right not get facetime on television.
Now, back to your regularly scheduled column.
A couple of calls notwithstanding, the Patriots dominated the game. Tom Brady did not look like a 40-year old quarterback and that offense looked just as good as it has for the past 15 years or so. The defense looked just as good if not better than it has in recent years.
I do not like the Patriots but I’ll give them credit: They are the best team in the AFC. I hope Jacksonville can knock them off but I don’t expect that to happen.
In the NFC, it pains me to say the Vikings might be the best team even though the Eagles are the number one seed.
I’m an old fan of the NFC Central, the “Black and Blue Division.” The Vikings were part of that group along with the Bears, Packers, and Lions. I know Tampa Bay was added later but that was like watching “Happy Days” after Richie joined the Army. The Buccaneers don’t count.
I remember those great Vikings teams with the “Purple People Eaters” defense with names like Marshall, Paige, and Eller; the great Fran Tarkenton at quarterback with Chuck Foreman coming out of the backfield as an extra receiver. Who could forget head coach Bud Grant braving subzero temperatures at the old Metropolitan Stadium, wearing no gloves as he directed his team?
I have always believed Bud Grant might have been an actual Viking, the descendant of the original European settlers of North America.
And speaking of Vikings, my mother’s family is of (no joke) Norwegian descent. There is actual Viking blood in my veins.
With that in mind as we approach the final two weeks of the NFL season, let me say this loud and proud: Fly Eagles, fly.
Hey, at the end of the day, I’m still a Bears fan.