By Wesley Kaminsky
Before I get started, can you remember a better season of football than this one? Yes, we live in a sports world where we all happen to be caught up in the moment at times, but there is no denying the drama and heartbreak that took place in both the regular season and the post-season this year. Just in case you need your memories refreshed as to what happened on Sunday, here you go.
Game 1: Baltimore Ravens at New England Patriots:
It seems as though it’s rare that we see the top two seeds in the conference go at it in the championship game, but the NFL world was in for a treat on Sunday when the Ravens and Patriots clashed in Foxborough. This is one of the rare occurrences where you can legitimately make the argument that the better team didn’t win. With all the pressure on Joe Flacco leading up to the game thanks to comments by Ed Reed, the Baltimore quarterback had a lot of pressure on him. Some were even saying he was playing for his job, and if that was the case, then he indeed won it.
Flacco made a statement on Sunday, throwing for 306 yards and leading the Ravens all the way down the field for the potential game winning touchdown, or at least overtime. However, thanks to a Lee Evans dropped touchdown, and a Billy Cundiff missed field goal, Flacco and the Ravens fell short in a game that they really had no business losing. The defense got to Tom Brady all afternoon, as he threw for just 239 yards and zero touchdowns while being intercepted twice. Brady was clearly rattled by that Ravens defense, but it wasn’t enough. All of the blame was thrown on Lee Evans and Billy Cundiff. And let’s face it, rightfully so. Evans dropped the game winning touchdown, while Cundiff shanked a 32-yard field goal that would have sent the game to overtime. The Patriots didn’t win this game. The Ravens lost it. It’ll be a long off-season in Baltimore as Tom Brady gets to play in his fifth Super Bowl (going for his 4th championship).
Game 2: New York Giants at San Francisco 49ers:
Similar to his brother’s Ravens, Jim’s 49ers missed out on a golden opportunity on Sunday. Highlighted by two key Kyle Williams special teams miscues, the Giants were able to come away with a win in overtime in San Francisco, setting up a 2008 Super Bowl rematch with the New England Patriots. This just makes me sick. Forgive me, that’s just the Eagles fan talking in me. In a game where neither defense would budge, the 49ers and Giants were each just a turnover away from losing the game, and it was the 49ers who made the two crucial turnovers, while the Giants had none. That’s not to say they shouldn’t have had some, though. As good as Eli Manning looked at times on Sunday, he also could have cost the Giants the game on Sunday. Had the Niners aggressive defense not run into each other multiple times, they would have picked Manning off multiple times and we’d be talking about a different Eli here. I’m not taking anything away from the special season Manning had, but he did not deserve to win that game on Sunday. Unfortunately though, we can’t play the “what if” game in sports, especially when it comes to playoff football. You either make the plays, or you don’t. For as good as Alex Smith was a week ago against the Saints, he was every bit as bad against the Giants. He completed just one pass to a wide receiver and you just didn’t get the sense that he was going to march the 49ers down the field to win the game. It also didn’t help that the 49ers were just 1-13 on third down conversions.
To put it simply, the Giants got every break in the game. They got lucky when the ball hit Kyle Williams foot on the punt, got lucky Eli Manning didn’t get intercepted multiple times, and got lucky that Ahmad Bradshaw wasn’t called for a fumble at the end of the fourth quarter as he most certainly should have. This one will sting 49ers fans.
The two better teams lost on Sunday and we should be seeing a “Harbowl” on February 5th. Kyle Williams, Lee Evans and Billy Cundiff are the goats of championship weekend and they’ll have a tough time getting over these losses.
Instead, we’ll see a Super Bowl rematch from 2008 as Tom Brady gets his chance at revenge. Please, Tom, don’t let the Giants win another one. I don’t know if my head can take it.
Stay tuned for the next edition of TheSportsKraze.