‘Tis The Season of Broken Dreams
Teams prepare for the hope of a postseason berth throughout the offseason, OTA’s, training camp and the regular season. Nearly a year of planning, training, stress, pain and endurance from the best in the world are fueled by one goal.
A dozen teams achieve their goal – the postseason. And when they do, the stakes are higher and hopes grow loftier. One team will ultimately succeed and the highs are exhilarating.
For others, hopes are dashed and the lows can be devastating.
Eight teams over the course of the past two weeks have lost the wind that once filled their sails. The suddenness of a season’s end can feel like a blindside hit square in the back.
Success can vaporize and disappear like frosty breath upon a Missouri football field in January.
When the reality of losing settled upon the faces of Andy Reid and Dak Prescott during the final moments of each of their disappointingly agonizing defeats, it was hard not to feel empathy. We remember it vividly in seasons past when the Ravens came up a little short.
Every team except one will feel that agony.
It’s the nature of the beast.
Divisional Round Observations
Somebody put a leash on Travis Kelce and a muzzle around his face. Any coach will tell you that if you are going to bellyache about the officiating in a losing effort, you probably didn’t play well enough to win. Blaming officials is usually the hymn of losers.
As reported by the Kansas City Star, Kelce said the holding call on Eric Fisher that negated a successful two-point conversion to tie the game at 18 was “horsesh*t” and said that referee Carl Cheffers who threw the flag, “shouldn’t be able to work at Foot Locker.”
Look, like most of you I loathe the Steelers and my favorite team these days is whoever plays them, including the Patriots. But…
It was, technically holding.
Now it isn’t often that such calls are made in that situation particularly when it appears as if Alex Smith climbed the pocket to escape the pressure AND when you consider the other holding calls that were ignored earlier in the game.
Throughout the weekend it seemed as if the game officials were told to stand down and let the guys play. Several pass interference calls were ignored, particularly during the Cowboys v. Packers, with Dallas regularly being the guilty, but un-penalized team.
As for Kelce, if he hadn’t dropped a perfectly placed pass from Smith inside the Steelers’ 15 and if he hadn’t lost his mind 2 snaps later with a galactically stupid unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, maybe that 2-point conversion would never have been necessary.
We were treated to some special performances beginning with that of Matt Ryan. The 2016 MVP candidate threw for 338 yards and 3 scores while connecting on 26 of 37 throws for a passer rating of 125.7.
The knock on Ryan is that he hasn’t prevailed in the playoffs unlike 2008 draft classmate Joe Flacco who regularly steps up big during the postseason. But Ryan’s performance on Saturday helped to rekindle the old debate – Flacco or Ryan?
Super Bowl 47 seemed to put an end to the debate but given Ryan’s stellar 2016 and Flacco’s struggles since his SB 47 MVP Trophy, I thought to post the question, “Flacco or Ryan?”, on our Facebook page to see if public opinion has swayed at all. The responses were sometimes vulgar and we were forced to hide many and ban some likers.
That Joe Flacco, he’s certainly a lightning rod in Baltimore.
Aaron Rodgers, you are ridiculous! That 40-yard rope on the run to his non-throwing side is a toss that few if any can make with such accuracy. The Packers have my support for the balance of these playoffs but that secondary of theirs (with all due respect to Micah Hyde – oh boy! Somewhere, Matt Ryan is salivating.
Le’Veon Bell is clearly a special talent. We were reminded of that over and over and over by Cris Collinsworth and Al Michaels (I’m glad their season is over) who must have been drinking love potion No. 26. Their collective man crush was nearly matched by Joe Buck’s infatuation with Rodgers.
Bell is a great back, arguably the best in the business and I can’t wait to see how big of a pay day he gets from the Steelers so as to drain their cap resources. But let’s give the Steelers O-line a little credit. The reason that Bell can be so patient and selectively choose those creases to run through, has a ton to do with the guys up front sustaining their blocks.
If Bell stays in Pittsburgh, he should reward his line with a lifetime supply of pierogies.
Meanwhile, Antonio Brown is quite the ham. He unleashed his inner Kim Kardashian with a selfie video that happened to capture some locker room talk intended for Steelers ears only. But thanks to Brown, Mike Tomlin has some big time egg on his face.
While Brown is loving himself in a Terrell “I Love Me Some Me” Owens kind of way, Tomlin can be heard enthusiastically addressing his team.
“We spotted those [a*******] a day and a half.
“They played yesterday. Our game was moved to tonight. We gonna touch down at 4 o’clock in the f****** morning. So be it. We’ll be ready for that a**. But you ain’t gotta tell them we coming.”
Somewhere, Bill Belichick is plotting his revenge.