What have we learned - Divisional Playoff Weekend
Philadelphia 23, New York Giants 11.
This was an interesting game, because after the opening kickoff, the Eagles were in control of this game, completely. The Giants were held to a field goal, Asante Samuel intercepted a pass, the Eagles scored a touchdown, and it was all over. The Giants held a third-quarter lead, true, but it always seemed like Philly was going to win ... as long as they didn't do something stupid. They didn't, and they won. McNabb threw two interceptions, but one was somewhat deep in New York territory and didn't hurt, and the other led to a field goal. The Eagles' defense is playing extremely well, and although I wish their offense would be a bit better, they're still looking pretty good. And how cool were those two fourth-down stops? Pretty damned cool, if you ask me.
DeSean Jackson update! 4 catches for 81 yards; 1 punt return for 0 yards.
Turnovers: Giants 3, Eagles 2. Turnovers = loss? Pretty much. 1-0.
Baltimore 13, Tennessee 10.
So the delay-of-game penalty that wasn't called was a really shitty non-call, but Tennessee should probably try holding onto the ball near the goal line. Seriously, Titans, hold onto the damned ball! And Baltimore played like crap on offense, and if one freakin' team could hold onto the ball around them, they'll put up no fight whatsoever. Of course, that's easier said than done, but still - the Ravens got 9 first downs. Sheesh. The Titans also committed 12 penalties - at home. Jeez, Tennessee. What a crappy game. Well, okay, it was a good defensive game, but man, those offenses were annoying.
Turnovers: Titans 3, Ravens 0. Turnovers = loss? You bet. 2-0.
Arizona 33, Carolina 13.
I'm not sure why the Panthers stopped running when they were only down 17-7, but Jake Delhomme has always been overrated as a passer, and he was not going to bring them back by chucking it all over the field. Pundits are expressing shock that the Arizona defense is playing so well, but all year they've been a solid team at creating turnovers, so it's not surprising they're getting it done in the postseason. It's mildly surprising they're playing so well against the run, but when they get ahead, they play well, like any defense. I was a bit, well, astonished that the Panthers tried to single or even double cover Larry Fitzgerald. Put about five guys on him, Carolina! If Steve Breaston beats you, oh well. If Fitzgerald beats you, you're a bunch of idiots. Now the Cardinals become the first 4 seed to host a Championship Game. Wow. Be careful what you wish for, Arizona - home teams haven't exactly been money in these playoffs, and the Eagles, remember, lost two Championship Games in a row earlier in the decade.
Turnovers: Panthers 6, Cardinals 1. Turnovers = loss? Extremely so. 3-0.
Pittsburgh 35, San Diego 24.
The only thing you need to know about this game is that in the third quarter, San Diego ran one offensive play. ONE! And it was a pass that was intercepted. Pittsburgh only scored one touchdown in the quarter, but come on - you can't win by running one play in a quarter.
Turnovers: Chargers 2, Steelers 0. Turnovers = loss? Yes. 4-0.
So we get an AFC Championship Game in which the two teams might not combine for 10 points, and an NFC Championship Game that's a rematch of those classic 1947 and 1948 NFL Championship Games. Who can forget those? I'm mildly confident about the Eagles' chances, although they are favored, so the Cardinals can continue to play the "no respect" card and come out angry. They do play very well at home, but as I wrote above, the Eagles had a serious home field advantage in 2002 and 2003 but cracked under the pressure. The Cardinals, even if they're not favored by the national media, will have to deal with the expectations of a fan base that has been salivating for this moment for 20 years. The Eagles, meanwhile, are still playing with house money, to a degree. I just hope Philadelphia doesn't take the Cardinals lightly like Carolina obviously did. The Eagles beat the Cardinals 48-20, but it was in Philadelphia on a short week, and Arizona is playing much better these days. It should be fun, though - at least more fun than the slugfest in Pittsburgh will be.