This is my last football post for this season. The college champion has been decided and I have absolutely no interest in the remaining teams left in the NFL playoffs.
Again there were four games in the NFL this past weekend. The games started with Baltimore going to New England. Going in I didn't think the Ravens had a chance. Turns out they had a very good chance. They led or were tied the entire game up until about five minutes remaining. Baltimore had a 14 point lead twice in the game but unfortunately for them Tom Brady still plays QB for the Patriots. Brady had some help when receiver Julian Edelman threw a 51 yard TD pass to another wide receiver Danny Amendola. The Pats finally pulled ahead with 5:13 remaining then held on. It was not New England's best game as they rushed for only 14 yards on 13 attempts. As the top seed the Patriots now get to host the AFC title game after the 35-31 win.
The second Saturday game looked like even more of a mismatch as Carolina traveled to Seattle. The Panthers went into the game with the worst regular season record of any playoff team while the Seahawks had the #1 NFC seed and had only lost one home game all year. Carolina hung in there and actually won most offensive statistics. Unfortunately for them they also had three turnovers one of which was a 91 yard pick six. Seattle won 31-17 and will host the NFC championship game.
Sunday brought what had been hyped as Ice Bowl II as Dallas went to Green Bay. It turned out that the legendary frozen tundra of Lambeau Field was not as frozen as first anticipated. Temps were in the 20's at game time. I think the New England game was a little colder but no one had made a big deal about that. Both teams went into the game with 12-4 regular season records. Dallas had not lost an away game all year and Green Bay was undefeated at Lambeau. Something had to give. Unfortunately for the Cowboys it was them. It was a good game. Dallas led by four at the half and held that lead until 9:10 remaining. The Cowboys had a chance and looked like they would score with about five minutes to go. Dez Bryant made a circus catch on the one yard line but it was ruled not a catch by the replay officials. The Packers were able to run out the clock for a 26-21 win. The Cowboys are done and Green Bay gets to go to Seattle for the NFC title game.
The last game of this playoff round was Indianapolis at Denver. I thought the Broncos would win this one. Indy hadn't looked that good to me against the Bengals the week before and Denver had not lost a home game this season. Shows what I know. The Colts held a 14-10 advantage at the half then held Denver and the once mighty Peyton Manning to three second half points. Final score was 24-13 but the game didn't feel that close. Since the end of the game we have learned that Manning was injured going in. He looked bad at times. Is this the end of his great career? It is obvious that Colts QB Andrew Luck has a bright future. The new guard beat the old guard in this one. Indianapolis gets to now go to New England, where another old guard QB reigns, to play for a berth in the Super Bowl.
On Monday night we had the first ever college football playoff championship game. It was held in Arlington, TX which is just down the road. The game pitted #2 Oregon against #4 Ohio State. I was really hoping for an Oregon victory. I have a strong dislike for all things Big Ten, Ohio St. and Urban Meyer. Once again I was disappointed which has been a theme this entire football season. The Ducks scored first but it was mostly Ohio State after that. They seemed to be much more physical and controlled the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball. When Oregon did score, they did it quickly which meant their defense was on the field most of the game. The Buckeyes dominated time of possession 37:29 to 22:31. That is a whole quarter longer. OSU also had a much more balanced attack compared to the pass dominated Oregon offense. The one big weak spot for Ohio St. was taking care of the ball. They had four turnovers but Oregon failed to take advantage. The Ducks did manage to get the score back to 21-20 midway through the third quarter but it was all OSU after that for a 42-20 win. The Buckeyes are the college champions.
So I wrap up another football season. This has been a particularly bad year as the Gators, Bulls, Jaguars, Buccaneers, Falcons and Bell Blue Raiders had less than stellar years. Only the TCU Horned Frogs and Bishop Kenny Crusaders excelled. What will 2015 bring? The Gators and Falcons will have new head coaches. The Jags, Bucs and Bulls will have significant changes to their coaching ranks too. Tampa Bay has the #1 2015 draft choice, Jacksonville #3 and Atlanta #8. Will the coaching changes and draft picks make a difference? Florida has lost several high school recruit commitments due to a poor 2014 campaign and the resignation of coach Muschamp. Will new coach Jim McElwain be able to shore up this recruiting class? I'm optimistic that 2015 will be a better football season.
I'll watch the remaining NFL playoff games and probably consume some beverages and snacks during the games. No Super Bowl party plans yet, but there is plenty of time for that.
The 2015 college season gets into full swing on September 5th although there will be a few games before that. The NFL kicks off on September 13th. I'll be back then to lend my expert observations and opinions to the mix. Until then, happy punting.