Divisional Round Recap
Peyton Manning had a 39.6 passer rating on Saturday, he has thrown one touchdown and five, count 'em, five interceptions--and yet the Colts have won their way to the AFC Chapionship game on the strength of their defense. Not just their defense, their run defense. All of a sudden, they look like a Tony Dungy team. That's downright weird. If you like D (as I surely do; I also like pitcher's duels), that Colts-Ravens game was one of the best matches in years. Adam Vinatieri sure looks like a bargain this morning, doesn't he?
A moment of silent respect is due for the Seattle Seahawks, 9-1/2-point underdogs who took the powerhouse Chicago Bears to overtime before losing. Mad respect to Rex Grossman's good game, but I already know I'm picking against him next week. I think the Saints have that whiff of destiny Frank Creasy claims to have detected on the Bears. The Eagles, too, deserve a tip of the cap for their improbable playoff run, holding the Saints' offense down much more than I thought possible. Interesting how both NFC losers had severely decimated secondaries. And I can't imagine a guy I'd like better as my number two QB than Jeff Garcia. All three NFC East teams are gone...
How about them Patriots? Finally, I almost called the right score on one of these things. Is it just me, or does Tom Brady look more and more like Joe Montana with every fourth-quarter comeback drive? I feel awful for Marty Schottenheimer, who really doesn't bear the blame for having to face a team as magical as New England. I think the Chargers would have gone all the way if they'd had to face any team but the Patriots.
So the top seeds vanish from the AFC and advance in the NFC. Somehow, both Saints at Bears and Patriots at Colts seem right, as if preordained. As I drink coffee from my Red Sox mug, I can only think: I can't wait until next week!