Now that we all have had close to a day to digest the two conference title games as well as a busy Monday with a few coaching moves, here are some observations to chew on:
I don’t want to harp too much and take credit away from the Colts offense, but have you ever seen a Bill Belichick defense fold as quickly as it did Sunday in the Dome? I think I can say for the first time in a long time that Belichick was clearly outcoached in that game, and Tony Dungy and the Colts get major props for possibly the best comeback I have ever seen.
Speaking of which – is the magic starting to fade on the playoff flower of the Patriots? They have dropped two of their last four playoff games, both on the road. I really didn’t expect Tom Brady to pull it off in the last minute yesterday, and I think that all the steam was out of the Pats after the TD to make it 38-34. I think the Pats problem is that they are not getting the one or two seeds like they had in the past. Maybe they need to refocus more in the regular season instead of just thinking they can “hit the switch” come playoff time. Clearly they were tired in that second half Sunday night, and that was likely a direct result of already having to play two road games.
Maybe the biggest unnoticed play Sunday was the tackle on kick returner Ellis Hobbs that made the Pats start from their own 20-yard line on their final drive. Hobbs had some great returns Sunday, and a return to at least the 35 or 40 would have helped the Pats a great deal.
Maybe now we know why wide out Reche Caldwell was not the most sought after reciever this past offseason. After rubbing it into his old team a week ago with a few big plays, Sunday he may have had the two biggest drops ever in a conference title game. The 2nd one in which he was wide open when the Colts forgot to cover him and he just dropped it was out and out sad. Maybe next time he has a big day he’ll be a little more humble.
Looking back on the Saints-Bears game, I think that the Saints really let this one slip away down 16-14 and marching into Bears territory for a go-ahead score. On the edge of field goal range, they threw the ball three times, twice deep, from the 30, and then on 4th down had Billy Cundiff try a 47-yard field goal. Hindsight being what it is, a run should have been called on first or second down to try and make the field goal closer, and if Sean Peyton was bent on throwing three times, then on 4th and 10 he should have punted. Two series later Drew Brees was slapped with a saefty for grounding in the end zone, and the Bears offense hit a stride that saw them put the game away with a TD throw on the next series.
Reggie Bush is going to be an outstanding player for years to come if he stays healthy, but Sunday as he was finishing off an 88-yard TD catch and run, his antics of waving back at the Bears defense could not have made that unit happy. Bush came across pretty mild mannered and humble his first year in the league, but that display not only dropped that humbleness down a notch, but you know it could not have sat well with the Bears D, who from that point did not allow a single Saints point.
The field in Chicago was a joke Sunday, and you could plainly see huge chunks of turf coming up well throughout the game. I am not some advocate of not having good old fashioned mud and slop every once in awhile, but the condition of that turf did no favors to either team. You can bet that the playing field in Miami will be tons better for the Super Bowl on February 4th.