by Ryan Meehan
Championship weekend gave us the opportunity to kick back and relax and watch some football. At the end of the day, we would be rewarded with the knowledge of who would get to represent each conference in Super Bowl XLVII.
49ers 28, Falcons 24
The Falcons did exactly what they have become known for, and that’s why the Falcons aren’t going to the Super Bowl. Once again, they came out with a bang and looked like they were going to be unstoppable. They had seemingly everybody in the country thinking that they were ready to get over the hump and that they were going to put their playoff demons to bed. Well, almost everybody…
When the Niners were down 17-0, to be honest with you I wasn’t really worried about them getting blown out. I knew that Atlanta usually blows all of their energy in the first quarter, and then has a stretch toward the middle of the game where they fail to produce. That belief regarding the Falcons is fresh in everybody’s minds of course because that’s how they let Seattle creep back into the game last weekend before getting very lucky and winning at the last second.
Colin Kaepernick showed a lot of poise under pressure and he slowly got San Francisco back into this game. He finished 16 for 21, but it wasn’t extremely urgent that he put up a 29 for 32 performance to win the game. He will have to have the game of his life in order to beat a strong Ravens team, but in this case he was facing a squad that shouldn’t have been a one seed to begin with. They still aren’t in great form, and David Akers missed his only field goal attempt of the game so they still have a lot to work on in the next two weeks.
I’ll talk plenty more about the 49ers in the Super Bowl Preview, but I would like to discuss the Falcons for a moment. On the surface it would appear that they are making progress with this whole “playoff slump”, but in my opinion that’s just not the case. Think about it – they still didn’t make it to the big game AND in the two games they did play in they were ineffective for long periods of time. They got out of the Seahawks game with a win which they probably didn’t deserve, and they lost on Sunday in a game that they undoubtedly deserved to lose. They didn’t score a single point in the entire second half of a conference championship game that they were hosting. To make matters worse, they also didn’t have anybody rush for more than 32 yards individually and as a team they only racked up 81 yards on the ground total. Keep in mind, this is all going down in THEIR building. But I’m willing to take it a step further even if it means saying something a lot of people don’t want to come to terms with:
Matt Ryan is not an elite quarterback. Not now, not the last few years, not ever. Yes, I do understand that he always puts up great stats and seems to have a lot of completions but look at how many pass attempts he also has. An elite quarterback is efficient as well as effective, and although one of those things is usually the case with Ryan it’s almost never both. An elite quarterback doesn’t have entire halves of unproductive football when it’s the most important game in franchise history. Matt Ryan is not an elite quarterback. Period.
In the meantime, we got to see Colin Kaepernick take his first step towards greatness, as the 49ers will be headed to their first Super Bowl in 18 years. The 49ers are very gritty but you can really see how well Jim Harbaugh manages his team when push comes to shove. I like the Niners a lot they can hang with anybody, they can adapt to any situation that is thrown in their lap. Even if you’re not a fan of the team, I don’t consider you to be a true fan of football if you don’t want to watch another week of the 49ers. It’s just good television.
Ravens 28, Patriots 13
Up until this game, Tom Brady was 67-0 at home when leading at halftime. But it didn’t ever really feel like the Patriots had control over this one. They looked fidgety and almost nervous. And while they had subscribed to Belichick’s idea of “next man up” when it came to players getting injured, it was almost like they had forgotten the mantra altogether. My point about the Falcons not scoring in the second half must have been an important one when it comes to a formula for losing, because the Patriots did the same thing.
Bernard Pollard may not be a dirty player, but when it comes to inflicting pain on the Patriots he goes out of his way to make sure that they felt it. He knocked the Pats around in almost every way, and he was the most punishing player on a squad full of players that fit that description. But while Pollard was brutal, Ray Lewis gave the most thorough performance in which he collected fourteen tackles bringing his playoff total this year to 44 over the past 3 games. Not bad for a guy who was out for ten weeks and probably shouldn’t be playing under any other circumstance.
But you have to give it up for Joe Flacco. I bag on the guy a lot because up until this time I haven’t seen him dominate a Super Bowl caliber team on the road until this one, but there goes my argument. Flacco went 21-36 for 240, which aren’t glamorous numbers but he threw for three touchdowns and he didn’t have a single pick. And he did it right in Tom Brady’s face. He walked right into the guy’s house and shit on his living room floor and then wiped his ass on the ottoman.
There was a certain spastic nature to the Patriots in this one. While usually very calm and top-notch when it comes to managing the game, they were frantic and looked like a team that didn’t even belong in the playoffs. They had more total yards and first downs than the Ravens did but somehow couldn’t even come up with half their point total even though they ran eleven more plays than Baltimore did. It’s all very confusing to me, and the Patriots may be headed on the fast track out of playoff town here within the next few years.
On last comment on the Patriots. A group of Clear Channel Outdoors Boston thought that it would be a great idea to put up a billboard on the freeway that had a digital countdown to game time and in big letters simply read “Countdown to Ray Lewis’ retirement party”. This was really stupid. I knew it must have been because by early Sunday afternoon there were already rumblings that certain Patriots players saying they didn’t like the idea, mostly because of the way Ray Lewis has responded to his doubters in the past. If there is one guy that you don’t want to give bulletin board material it’s Ray Lewis, and usually the whole country doesn’t see that bulletin board. I understand a certain franchise doesn’t have control over what their fans do and don’t do, what I don’t understand is why somebody would do something so insanely stupid and piss off the last guy in the world you’d want to piss off. Let this be a lesson to everybody in the broadcasting industry – The players on the field will handle their business, you just stick to scheduling syndicated reruns of Will & Grace.
Now we are left with one game, Super Bowl XLVII. It will be a matchup between the Ravens and the 49ers, and a very unique one at that because the two head coaches are also brothers. If you’re not tired of that storyline by the time this goes to press, give it a few days and trust me you won’t want to hear about it anymore. The bigger issue here is we’re going to have a new Super Bowl winning quarterback, and that is coming at a time where we are entering the new era of mobile quarterbacks in the NFL. Part of me was kind of bummed when the Patriots lost because Koz is such a huge fan, but then I thought it might be nice to see some new blood in the big game. If Colin wins, it will show that this new era can lead to titles. If Flacco wins, he will finally get the respect he deserves from bonehead writers like myself who though that he could never finish the job. We’ll discuss all of that and more in our Super Bowl preview at the end of next week.
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