Wild Card Saturday Postgame Thoughts: Seahawks and Jets move on, Colts and Saints get an early vacation

Posted: January 8, 2011 in NFL
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See this article with photos on Bleacher Report

Wow.  Very interesting and exciting first day of the playoffs.  Both of last season’s Superbowl teams go down on the first day.  But that’s actually kind of fitting.  Last season, the Colts and the Saints dominated the league right from the beginning, both of them getting deep into the season still undefeated, and both riding that all the way to the Superbowl.  This year, both teams had their struggles at times, and neither one looked quite like the same team as last year.

Seattle scored 41 points!  I thought Matt Hasselbeck might have a big game, and that they could run the ball surprisingly well.  And I knew Reggie Bush would be useless, and Brees would throw for a ton of yards.  The only way I thought Seattle could even stay in the game was if Brees turned it over.  I knew that if they didn’t, the Saints would score 35  points or more.  Seattle couldn’t score enough to keep up with that, or so I thought.

New Orleans only had one turnover, scored 36 points and lost.  I thought Arizona played some truly awful defense in the playoffs last year, but this might be worse. At least Green Bay and New Orleans have powerful offenses, it’s understandable if they put up big points.  But to let a team as mediocre as Seattle break 40 on you in the playoffs!  That hurts.  The glow is off that magical Superbowl reputation after this.  The Saints are just another contender coming up short.

As for Seattle, can they now go into Chicago or Atlanta and do it again?  I don’t think so, because both those teams can actually run the ball and both tend to play some pretty good defense on occasion.  Plus, Seattle has been generally lousy on the road this year.

You can bet that the Falcons are breathing a bit easier.  They did not want to see the Saints comin’ to town after they beat Atlanta at home just a few weeks ago.  It could be dangerous, though.  There might be a bit of a letdown against Seattle.  If the Packers beat the Eagles and it’s Green Bay, they’ll be up for that, no doubt.

I’m not certain exactly what the Jets were thinking in the first half of their game with the Colts.  It was obvious Sanchez couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn.  Everything he threw most the night was high, even a lot of his completions.  The Jets are fortunate there wasn’t more than one interception.  He did redeem what was otherwise a horrible game by marching them down the field for the game winning field goal.

I was very impressed with Peyton Manning.  He was patient in a way you don’t see often in a quarterback in a big game, and in a way, particularly, with him in the past.  Quarterbacks get so much acclaim for throwing the ball, they don’t get enough respect for when they choose not to throw.

The Jets were loading up the secondary and leaving gaping holes to run in late in the second half, and Peyton worked that overplay by New York to get in position to win the game instead of trying to force something through the air like he would have done earlier in his career.  It’s true they lost, but they almost stole a game the Jets controlled for much of the second half.

Can the Jets go into New England and win?  I’m not sure I’d bet against them.  Their defense played a fantastic game.  The Colts had only one touchdown, and that was a 57-yard pass on a blown coverage.  It wasn’t a long, sustained drive.  Darrelle Revis held Reggie Wayne to 1 catch for 1 yard.  Indy did have some success running the ball later in the game, but that was exactly what the Jets wanted them to do at that point.

If New York had emphasized the run more right from the get-go, this game never would have come down a last-second field goal.  If the Jets are going to beat New England, they’re going to have to control the clock and dictate the Patriots’ strategy, just like they did to the Colts in the second half tonight.

The real key is going to be Sanchez, though.  Unless he plays a whole lot better next week, they’ll get killed.  If he’s still throwing everything high, look out for the turnovers.  The Patriots defense may be inexperienced but they are also very opportunistic.

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