So much for drama. Save for the Chargers and Jets, the games this weekend were almost over before they started. The teams who were supposed to win took care of business for the most part and one underdog is still in the hunt. Setting up for what should be a couple of good match-ups next week, take one last look at how those teams got there.
Cardinals Vs. Saints
The Saints wasted no time putting this game away by scoring on five of their first six first half possessions. Things were looking up for the Cardinals early after Tim Hightower sprang a 70 yard touchdown run on the game’s first play from scrimmage, but just couldn’t match the Saints’ firepower, especially after Kurt Warner injured his shoulder after a vicious hit by Bobby McCray in the second quarter.
Maybe because it was a Saturday game, but Reggie Bush had a highly effective day turning in two highlight worthy scoring plays. The first was a 46 yard scamper for a TD in the second quarter and the second was an 83 yard punt return midway through the third quarter, which effectively ended any Cardinals’ hopes in mounting a comeback. They effectively threw up the white flag when they inserted Matt Leinart in the fourth quarter. On the (somewhat) bright side, the Cards set a playoff record for the most points given up in consecutive playoff games with 90.
Colts Vs. Ravens
The Colts offense was far from perfect, but going up against the Ravens they didn’t need to be. Holding the Ravens’ rushing attack to 87 yards for the game and daring Joe Flacco to beat them didn’t do much in regards to adding excitmenet to the game, but it enabled Indianapolis to finally win a game coming out of a bye week. Without much help from his running game, Peyton Manning showed why he was this year’s MVP going 30/44 for 246 yards with two touchdown passes.
Cowboys Vs. Vikings
Riding high after their first playoff win since 1996, Dallas ran into a buzz saw in the form of the Vikings. Tony Romo will likely see 91 in his sleep for the next few days because DE Ray Edwards was unstoppable at times, with 5 tackles for loss, three sacks and a forced fumble on a Vikings defense that opposed their will on Dallas all game long. The Cowboys could only muster a field goal and if they’re lucky Romo was taking notes because Brett Favre put on a clinic. The ageless wonder was elusive, explosive and accurate in route to setting a career high with four touchdown passes. Sidney Rice was the recipient for three of those passes and was all over the field. Dallas fans & players will probably not appreciate Favre’s fourth TD pass which came with three minutes left in the game, seeing how they were already up 27-3, on a play action called on fourth down with three yards to go. I mean it’s either that or kick a field goal…or maybe stop them. You know, because that’s what defenses do. General Larry Platt would be proud with his end game celebration.
Chargers Vs. Jets
Nate Kaeding aged 20 years in front of the nation while missing three field goals. The 57 yard miss right before the half was understandable, but the botched 36 and 40 yard ones really put his team in a bind. The Jets continued their improbable run thanks to another stellar defensive showing and their ability to not let big plays by the Chargers lead to points. Mark Sanchez and Shonn Greene played like anything but rookies in carrying the offensive load late in the game. Sanchez’s roll-out TD pass to Dustin Keller and Greene’s 53 yard TD run were just enough to get the win. Darelle Revis and rest of the secondary, kept the Chargers wideouts in check and allowed the Jets to throw the kitchen sink at Rivers with multiple blitz packages. Forcing things a bit, Rivers was picked off on consecutive passes in the third quarter. In the end, the Jets deserved to win, but the Chargers have to feel like they let this slip away thanks in part to Kaeding who will undoubtedly be looking to get out of San Diego as soon as possible.
Onward to the Conference Finals next week.