For the last two weeks in a row the NFL has had me going to bed Sunday night feeling completely gutted for a team I don’t support. First, it was the Cowboys and last weekend; Green Bay. The feeling on this one was less of anger but more of complete disbelief and shellshock. This one will surely haunt Aaron Rodgers long after he takes the steps in Canton; the Superbowl that could have been. And how close they got. Considering the Seahawks, as home team and number one seed, were favourites going in (a fact which clearly had escaped Doug Baldwin), the first three and 4/5 quarters suggested an upset was on the cards. Even a number of Seahawks fans left early, certain that a second SB in two years had escaped them. But how things changed…and quickly. To be honest, it wasn’t just Bostick’s drop of the onside kick (cue British super-glue related jokes) that lost it for Green Bay. Or the fact they allowed Wilson to take the extra point following the TD which followed the recovery of that kick. Green Bay set themselves up for a loss from the first quarter where Mike McCarthy did not display the guts to go for it on fourth and short – twice. They settled for 6 points rather than the possible 14. It’s all conjecture and speculation now, but with that kind of scoreline, the craziness of the dying minutes would have been a moot point. What seems most surprising here is that the lack of trust displayed in Aaron Rodgers, it’s not like the QB was Geno Smith. Or maybe McCarthy assumed it was too early for such plays but it cost Green Bay dearly when they made mistakes later. You have to play to win from the first second, especially in the Championship game and not assume that it’s early days and that the big plays will happen at the end, because in this game they did; for the other team. Russell Wilson had one of his worst games ever, stats wise, but it still resulted in one of the greatest victories of his career. The Seahawks do seem to have some intangible confidence that comes from their siege ‘nobody likes us’ mentality. They played to the dying seconds, taking strength from Green Bay’s mistakes. They were lucky with the coin toss giving them possession in OT, but with a hobbling Rodgers going three and out with two incompletions in the last drive of regulation time (resulting in the game –tying field goal) by this point the momentum had shifted. Thank goodness for Mason Crosby’s 48 yard field goal; without which the game was lost already. All in all, this was a heartbreaker. Sure, Green Bay still have a great team, the probable league MVP and a great chance next year but this was still ‘the one that got away’.
So the Seahawks will be taking the trip to Glendale, Arizona to face up to Tom Brady’s Patriots in the Superbowl. The Pats hammered the Colts 45-7, with the 38 point difference being New England’s largest margin of victory in any postseason game. Luck struggled with little support and it was clear from the start where this one was going, sadly. I will be certainly be a ‘12’ for the day next Sunday.
Obviously…there is something else to talk about here, which I feel loath to mention as it has completely overtaken my twitter feed and podcast library for the last week and to be honest is getting a little boring. However, it is not possible to discuss the outcomes of this game without some mention of ‘Deflate – gate’. As a Jets fan, it wouldn’t be unsurprising for me to be ranting about how Belichick and Brady are evil villains and cheats but here are my thoughts in brief, then no more.
- The balls did break the NFL rule, the NFL are investigating and will come to a conclusion. If they decide to punish the Patriots then they will, possibly with a minimum fine of $25,000 and a loss of draft pick. It is serious, because the rules have been broken, but it will be dealt with. Then we can deal with who is to blame; whether that is Brady, Belichick or some lowly kit manager.
- Belichick has a history so has to accept that this is going to be made into a big deal regardless of who is found to be at fault, if anyone. After ‘Spygate’ he was labelled as at a least a one-time cheat. That is life, you can’t cheat and then moan when people assume you’ve done it again. Even if everyone else was doing it, during Spygate, they got caught. If you aren’t doing anything wrong, you can’t get caught. The way he deals with the press and how Brady initially laughed off the claims doesn’t endear them to the baying masses either.
- As much as it pains me to say it, I can’t see that deflated balls had a massive impact on the outcome of the game. It seems that the influence of deflated balls is most likely to positively affect the passing game for Brady. As was predicted before, this was a big game for the run too; LeGarrette Blount had a career-high and Patriots record 30 rushes, with 148 yards and three touchdowns. Andrew Luck completed 12 out of 33 attempts for less than 150 passing yards. Without any passing touchdowns, the Patriots still win. Even Colt’s players have said this wouldn’t have changed the outcome of the game.
- The number of double entendre jokes relating to Belichick and Brady’s balls has been entertaining: it’s true.
- It’s the Superbowl next week; after that we have no football for several months. Let’s just enjoy the build-up and deal with this once conclusions have been drawn.
In other news, as a Jets fan, I was cautiously optimistic following Todd Bowles and Mike Maccagnan’s first press conference this week and the subsequent coaching appointments. The future is starting to take shape. Read what I wrote about this for UK endzone at : http://ukendzone.com/2015/01/22/what-has-changed-for-the-new-york-jets/