Well.....that sure sucked.
In a beatdown so one-sided that the army of Wes Welker clones I'm cultivating at an undisclosed location wouldn't have made much difference, the New England Patriots dropped their first home playoff game since 1978. The Baltimore Ravens were on the board from the very first play from scrimmage and basically never looked back. Tom Brady was 23-42 with 154 yards, 2 TDs and 3 interceptions while getting sacked three times. Just about the only bright spot for the Patriots in today's game (besides the fact that it's over) was Julian Edelman's filling in for Wes Welker at WR. The rookie has 6 catches for 44 yards and accounted for both of New England's touchdowns in the 33-14 loss to the Ravens.
So, only 32 days left until Truck Day!
Meanwhile, in the desert of Arizona, a much better game was brewing- even though it started off not unlike an earlier lopsided beatdown that day. Retirement rumors be damned- if Kurt Warner's performance was any indication (29-33, 379 yards and 5 TDs) then Ponce de Leon's geography was way off and the fountain of youth is actually somewhere in the Phoenix area. Green Bay QB Aaron Rodgers was picked off 18 seconds into the contest and the Cards took full advantage. Arizona would go on to score 17 points in the first quarter, all of them coming from Packers turnovers. Yet Green Bay would make a game of this, finally getting on the board in the second quarter and making it a 24-10 game at halftime. As a matter of fact, Green Bay came roaring back to make it a tie game late in the 4th quarter. Arizona would get the ball back with less than 2 minutes remaining in regulation and drive down the field for a 34 yard Neil Rackers field goal attempt, only to have the normally reliable kicker miss with 9 seconds left and send the contest to overtime tied 45-45. The Packers would win the coin toss, but on 3rd and 6 from their own 24, Aaron Rogers was sacked and fumbled the ball. Instead of hitting the turf, the ball bounced off of somebody's foot and right into the arms of Arizona linebacker Karlos Dansby, who ran it the 17 yards to paydirt and a date with the New Orleans Saints next weekend.
I've been thinking about this all night- is it more heartbreaking and disappointing to lose a playoff game in the manner New England did, where it appeared that they basically never stood a chance from the word 'go!'.....or to have your heart ripped out in overtime after overcoming the early defecit like what the Cheddar noggins are no doubt lamenting tonight?
Well....to indulge my New England-centric perspective, let's compare today's NFL matchups with the Red Sox in the 2009 ALDS versus the Red Sox in the 2008 ALCS. Sure the '08 ALCS was the better and clearly more thrilling contest (especially Game 5), but the end results were the same: The season was over and somebody else went to to World Series.
ELSEWHERE: Well, at least somebody from New England won today. The Celtics trip north of the border was rewarded with a 114-107 win over the Toronto Raptors on Sunday. Rajon Rondo had his first triple-double of the season while Rasheed Wallace started and notched a season-high 29 points in Sundays contest. The C's will host the Atlanta Hawks tomorrow night.