Sunday, January 23, 2011

Conference Championship Weekend: 11 Things I Know I Know

1. I know this is about as crushing a defeat as I have ever suffered in my sports-watching career. The Jets had huge hopes entering the season, got off to a great start, and then struggled towards the end of the year before rolling off four victories in their last five games, including two in the playoffs. They got my hopes up coming into the AFC title game only to throw a stink bomb of a first half before trying to fight back late. Just brutal.
Now, in my conscious life (since I was five years old in 1988), my teams have never won a championship. The Jets, Mets, Nets, and Islanders are now a combined 0-for-89. Awesome.
2. I know Caleb Hanie must be regretting his decision to rock a mustache during his 15 minutes of fame. Really, Caleb, a moustache? We all know you had no plans to be seen or heard today, but anything can happen in the NFL playoffs. This should be a lesson. By the way, I'm giving Jay Cutler the benefit of the doubt with regard to his injuries. I trust if he was able, he would have been on the field.
3. I know that both Green Bay and Pittsburgh set the tone for the day with dominating opening drives. The Packers went down the field for a touchdown in five minutes while establishing the pass. It took the Steelers nine minutes to do the same while establishing the run.  Both of their respective opponents made valiant comeback efforts but could not recover after falling behind early.
4. I know it's not a good sign when your defense has a better shot of making an explosive, field position-changing play than your offense does. Unfortunately for Chicago, this was the exact case. While we are on the subject, Aaron Rodgers' tackle of Brian Urlacher on the interception was the key play of the game.
5. I know the Jets did not score an offensive opening quarter touchdown since Week Four. You can only come from behind so many times.
6. I know conference championship Sunday featured an incredible display of linebacking talent. Chicago had Brian Urlacher and Lance Briggs. Green Bay countered with Clay Mathews, Desmond Bishop, and AJ Hawk. Pittsburgh had Lawrence Timmons, LaMarr Woodley, James Farrior, and James Harrison. New York offered Bart Scott, Calvin Pace, Bryan Thomas, and David Harris. Wow.
7. I know the sack/fumble of Mark Sanchez at the end of the first half was the biggest play of the game, but it could have and should have been avoided. With the Jets facing 2nd-and-17, they should have let the half expire. Instead, they rushed their second down play (an incompletion) setting up the sack/fumble and the game. It amazes me how often coaches botch end of half play-calling.
8. I know Todd Collins should not be in the NFL. Clearly Lovie Smith knows this too as he benched his backup quarterback after only two series. I just don't understand what those two drives told us that everyone in the organization didn't already know.
9. I know Jason Taylor should follow Collins out the door. It was an impressive 14-year run, but it's time to hang them up. Taylor failed to make any impact whatsoever in weeks.
10. I know Peyton Manning is a commercial whore. How else can he justify agreeing to dress up in bubble wrap shoulder pads while giving an interview into a bubble wrap microphone. Learn to say no.
11. I know the Packers will defeat the Steelers in Super Bowl XLV. Green Bay's offense is nearly unstoppable (imagine if they had a solid running back), and their defense can shut down the passing attack of Pittsburgh. I'm taking the Pack and laying any number of points Vegas asks of me.
"11 Things I Know I Know" is my feeble attempt to trump the untrumpable's Peter King and his "10 Things I Think I Think" which happens to be my favorite article each week.

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