“Win-Go On…Lose-Go Home”
Crushing is the only way to describe what happened yesterday in the AFC and NFC championship games.
The NFL may be a quarterbacks league, but the memo must have gotten lost on the way to Gary Kubiak’s mailbox in Denver. His Broncos, with a pedestrian offense, rode their defense to another win, on their way to the Super Bowl game.
Crushing describes what happened to Tom Brady, when the Orange Crush got done with him. Denver used every page in Wade Philips playbook, and beat the Patriots quarterback over the head to stymie the New England passing game.
A week ago, Kansas City’s highly regarded blitz scheme never got to Brady, end of Chiefs season. He threw 42-passes and was never sacked. Yesterday he got banged from pillar to post by the orange-clad Broncos.
Denver had 4-sacks, 2-interceptions, 15-hits, and 19-pressures against one of the top throwing QBs in the league. When they were not blitzing, they were rushing three and still causing havoc, while dropping a ton of players into coverage. The sightings of Rob Gronkowski, Julian Edelman, Danny Amendola and Brandon LaFell were few and far between.
On top of all that werre the two fourth down stops with their backs to the wall at the 14-and-17 in the fourth quarter, and the tip deflection interception on the final 2-point play of the game.
The Broncos don’t have much offense right now, but they sure have lots of defense. The devastated Bill Belicheck didn’t say it, but you could tell it in his down trodden voice. He didn’t want to blame a struggling offensive line, which was shaky on a week to week basis. His kicker Steven Gostkowski had made 523-PATs in a row, and then missed one. Make it, and all you’d need on the final play was another kick to force overtime.
And how about Belicheck’s decision to sit regulars in the final regular season game in Miami against a woeful Dolphins team, a game they lost. Had you played your stars, you likely win, and yesterday’s game would have been in Foxboro not in Denver.
Crushed too was a different term to describe Arizona Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer, and his defense. The Carolina Panthers started that downhill ride with a 17-point explosion in 8-minutes in the opening quarter, and kept it up all night.
In the biggest game of his respectable NFL career, Palmer threw four picks, fumbled once, and saw his team turn the ball over seven times in all, in a (49-15) hammering in Charlotte.
The excitable and dynamic Cam Newton was all that and more, running roughshod over the Arizona defense. They couldn’t stop him, his receivers, or stop the bleeding It was the worst beating Bruce Ariens has had since getting to the Valley of the Sun.
Palmer and receiver Larry Fitzgerald had tears in their eyes in the post game press conference.
So we go on to the Super Bowl, and some people go home with regrets. We’ve got two weeks to breakdown Cam-the-Kid quarterback vs the Orange Crush defense.
The playoffs the last three weeks have been fabulous. The Super Bowl may have to go some to eclipse what we have just seen.