Conference Finals — What, You Thought I Was Kidding?

24Jan12

I decided to wait an extra day to talk about Sunday’s games because I didn’t want it to appear that I was eager to gloat.  You see, I’m not the kind of guy that goes around bragging when I’m right.  So the last thing I want to do is start pointing out the things that I predicted, even when they’re right on the money.

Things like New England winning a physical game by a hand full of points.  Now, to be fair, I actually missed on the score.  I predicted a 27-23 outcome, and the score was only 23-20, so I was obviously way off on this one!

And I certainly wouldn’t dream of pointing out that I had predicted the Giants would walk out of San Francisco with a 24-16 victory.  After all, the final score was 20-17, so I guess, technically I missed that one too.

And the fact that Joe Flacco, when given the protection he needed, did a much better job than he did against Houston’s defense the week before, was purely coincidence.

And was it me or did the Giants and 49ers look like a couple of heavyweight boxers, feeling each other out, not being too aggressive offensively?  Hmmm…who would have thought?

But hey, I’m not the type to brag, so I’ll just smile, nod my head and move on!

After all, I didn’t get everything right.  I said that New York would come out in the second half with a game plan to take control of the game, but that wasn’t completely the case!  At least, not how I had envisioned.  I thought the game plan would have involved the offense, but it was strictly defense and special teams that won this game.

Sure, Manning to Cruz was huge, but little else worked on offense.  Defensively, however the Giants reminded the world that Alex Smith is still just an average quarterback.

I felt bad for the 49ers defense because they played fantastic and never allowed the Giants to find any rhythm, at least not for any sustained amount of time.

Ultimately, as it tends to happen in big games, this one was decided on special teams.  I don’t think we really need to discuss this topic too deeply, but I can’t help wonder what team Kyle Williams will be on next year.  I’m guessing that it won’t be San Francisco.

Earlier in the day, on the other side of the country, things pretty much went as I expected.  Baltimore’s tenacious defense held New England in check for most of the day.  The Patriots needed to rely on their running game a lot more than normal, which gave a lot of people the ridiculous idea that Tom Brady had a bad game.  I mean c’mon, he can’t play the Broncos every week!  Meanwhile, Joe Flacco showed that he belongs in the ‘top 12 QBs’ club, like it or not.

I noticed a couple of things in this game.  First, Lee Evans should have caught the touchdown pass (and taken the defender’s arm with him), but instead allowed the ball to be knocked away before he could get his second foot down.  Second, I was screaming at the TV for the Ravens to call time out as Billy Cundiff was running on to field with twelve seconds left on the play clock, but they didn’t.  We all know the result!

Finally, Joe Flacco not only showed that he was capable of leading his team on the field, he also showed a lot of class in the post game interview.  When asked about the missed field goal, he immediately placed the blame on ‘the team’ for their lack of ability to score the touchdown that would have avoided the need for the field goal.  He didn’t call anyone out, but he also showed that he takes care of all of his team mates.  My hat’s off to you, Joe!!!

So what have we got to look forward to now?  A rematch of four years ago, when the underdog and #6 seed New York Giants upset the undefeated and heavily favored New England Patriots.  This time, they appear to be a bit closer to each other in ability, but New England will still be the heavy favorite.

Stay tuned for my pre-game analysis and my prediction for the Super Bowl winner!

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