On Saturday, Wild Card Weekend 2011 delivered one of the most exciting days of NFL action in recent memory. A team with a losing record knocked off defending Super Bowl champions in a high-scoring shootout and the Super Bowl runner-up gave a game away at home in the final minute.
Sunday did not live up to the high standards set by it’s rival day of the week, but still served as a worthy venue for millions of Americans to bear witness to both home teams’ lackluster performances and send their supporters home with the bitter taste of defeat, having dropped several hundreds of dollars in vain to see it in person.
The outcomes of these four contests did nothing but underscore the parity and unpredictability of the NFL. It was also a powerful reminder of the omnipotent destructive power of NFL Playoff football for Saints fans, who until Saturday, were still riding the rolling whitewater of Super Bowl XLIV’s proverbial wave. The lesson learned? You will always return to shore. And sometimes, it is extremely rocky.
All of this culminated in an adrenaline fueled frenzy for the victors and the marked the beginning of an offseason surely to be littered with second guessing and hundreds of pounds of hate mail addressed to the New Orleans Saints defense by agitated fans, followers, and members of the offensive unit.
Predictions Thrown out the Window
I am pleased to report that I logged an impressive 0-4 outing in predicting the weekend winners. Sure, I took a chance on a green-horned Kansas City, who revealed their immaturity on the playoff stage, but was burned by the Saints, who unearthed a turd of gargantuan proportions. Not only did they simultaneously dash the hopes of fans and gamblers pulling for a black-and-gold victory; they managed to somehow slip through the space-time continuum and morph into the 2007 versions of themselves, rendering a return to the zenith of Mt. Super Bowl in 2011 as a delusional pipe dream of the highest degree.
Before this ends up in a full-fledged rant about the Saints getting caught with their pants down, let’s take a look at the highlights, lowlights, and horror show clips transpiring at the first mile marker on the highway to our nation’s revered Super Bowl Sunday.
- As much as it pains me to say it, that run by Seahawk RB Marshawn Lynch may have been one of the greatest rushes of NFL playoff history. Granted, it was against a Saints defensive unit that would have given up 40 points to a Pop Warner team. But breaking at least eight tackles and delivering a massive straight-arm to New Orleans CB and professional rag doll Tracy Porter put a resounding exclamation point on the upset special in Starbucks City.
- Seeing the Peyton Manning Face again, following another heartbreaker (and disappearing act) in a big game to the Jets in the final seconds at home:
- Admittedly, the Seahawks had a good performance in a game in which nobody gave them a chance to win. Sure, they were helped a great deal by one of the worst defensive “performances” submitted by a professional football squad, let alone one that won the golden ring last season. But give credit to Matt Hasselbeck and his four TD tosses, as well as to the game plan devised by Seattle coaches that essentially depantsed the Saints’ secondary in front of the nation.
- Aaron Rodgers was particularly efficient in Green Bay’s victory over Michael Vick and the overhyped Philadelphia Eagles. Three TDs and a passer rating of 122.5 overshadowed his 180 total yards passing, setting up a key matchup with another overhyped NFC contender — the Atlanta Falcons.
- The Fox Sports broadcast was easily the worst of the four games. Why Joe Buck and Troy Aikman are billed as their top play-by-play team is a modern age mystery. It’s bad enough that we have to endure Buck and his other hick sidekick Tim McCarver during the World Series. But the NFL Playoffs…and the Super Bowl? This is why the mute button was invented. And if I see that annoying Transformer robot playing the guitar after another commercial break, I am going to go all “rockstar” on my TV and pummel Mr. Vizio with the ol’ Les Paul. Then again, it’s Fox — what else should we expect?
- Colts Head Coach Jim Caldwell calling timeout with a two point lead and less than 30 seconds left to play in the game. The only thing worse than the actual decision was his weak explanation as to why he felt it necessary to stop the clock for New York.
- Saints CB Roman Harper had a stand-out performance in Saturday’s loss. His horrible ineptitude stood out among a team-wide mailed-in defensive effort that resembled the techniques employed by a Spanish matador or the revolving doors at the entrance of Harrah’s Casino on Canal Street.
- Matt Cassel played his first NFL Playoff game on Sunday. It was painfully obvious as he threw for a total of 70 yards with three interceptions, chalking up an impressive 20.4 passer rating.
Other Interesting Statistics
- Total hours sitting on couch while watching four NFL Playoff games over two days: 17.44
- Number of times I left the house: 2
- Total estimated calories consumed over weekend (in solid form): 13,543
- Total estimated calories consumed over weekend (in liquid form): 8,975
- Total estimated calories burned over weekend (from one hour jog and 17.44 hours of TV): 1,379
- Total punches landed upon inanimate objects: 4 (could have been higher, but I missed a few attempts)
At first glance, a lot of the statistics I managed to accumulate over the past two days were an exercise done in vain as the Who Dats succumbed to an acute bout of narcolepsy in the Emerald City of our nation’s northwest territory. However, upon further review, it is a testament to the unquestioned glory of the National Football League and I look forward to repeating these feats once again next weekend as we are treated to more melodramatic moments, game-blowing clock mismanagement, and helmet-shattering hits on leaping wide receivers.
Two more days, four more games, and another chance to fine tune our human consumption machines in preparation for the final ascent to Super Bowl Sunday.