Patriots-Colts wrapup

Patriots spent half the game looking like the Team of Destiny and the other half reassuring each of their potential rivals in the upcoming Super Bowl that no matter how bleak things look, the Pats’ll give ’em a chance to get back in it.

Gotta give the Colts credit for being good enough to get to the AFC championship and eek out whatever breaks they could scrape up, of course. Peyton Manning can pass up a storm against almost anybody, except the Patriots. And I may as well bring this up again: Manning has had bad days every time I’ve seen him play. It’s like me watching him is a curse. Maybe I’ll call him up and see how much he’ll pay me not to watch any of his games next year. I’ll do it for a reasonable price, say $500,000. (Look, nobody plays for peanuts in this league.)

Summation: Killer pass defense trumps killer quarterback.

Patriots-Colts, second half

0:55: Adam Vinatieri, the kicker, has a chance to put it away. It’s good. And goodbye Colts. 24-14 Pats.

1:16: Field goal try to ice the game. Pats kicker is due to miss one.

1:20: Holy crap, Tom Brady rolls out, fumbles the ball away. Do the Colts have one more chance? Wow, replay shows Brady clearly down before the ball came loose. This call will be overruled.

1:48: Manning can’t find an open receiver on 4th and 10. Barring a miracle, looks lke the Pats are headed for the Super Bowl.

1:51: 3rd & 10 for Manning. Pats defense is gonna come at him hard. Manning pass misfires.

2 minute warning: Manning’s 80 yards away from tying the game. Can Peyton Manning engineer The Drive to keep the Colts alive? My hunch is no.

2:16: Pats intent on keeping the Colts in the game. Troy Brown drops a first down pass he desperately needs to catch.

2:19: Pats need a first down … they need to be aggressive … second down pass batted down.

2:22: Colts need an onside kick to go their way. No luck; Pats recover. Interestingly, the tight end who dropped two touchdown passes may have saved the game by making the catch.

2:27: Manning TD pass to Marcus Pollard. PAT good; 21-14 Pats.

2:57: First and goal at the 10. Manning has a few tricks left.

3:19: Completion to the 25.

4:15: Desperation pass to Troy Walters nets a first down.

4:56: Manning sacked; Jarvis Green nails him for the third time today.

5:30: Colts at midfield; Edgerrin James takes a pass down to the Pats 42.

6:10: Colts can probably score once, but can they score twice? Pats need to stay in the defense that got ’em this far.

6:52: Colts defence finally gets a stop and forces Pats to punt for the first time all day.

8:17: Not that anybody’s following along, but I raised the specter of a Manning Meltdown in the first quarter. Not happy to see it come true, really, because Manning’s one of the class acts of the league, and now everybody’s gonna call him a choker for the next nine months.

8:57: Manning sacked. 4th and 13, Manning picked off again by Ty Law, Law’s third pick of the day.

9:57: Colts first down at the Pats 27.

10:50: 3rd & 2 at the Pats 40. Manning throws incomplete. Colts going for it. Edgerrin James sneaks across for first down.

12:25: Manning gets first down on short pass. Pats defence is giving up nothing deep and Manning’s receivers are not getting open.

13:34: Brady pass intercepted by Walt Harris in the end zone. Colts’ hopes alive, barely.

13:50: 2nd and goal. Tight end drops another touchdown pass.

Opening of the fourth quarter.
Things look bad for the Colts. Troy Brown hauls in a tipped pass. First and goal.

0:45: Brady’s first pass good to the Indy 17. 3rd quarter ends on the next play.

1:06: Rested Pats defense sacks Manning; Ty Law gets another interception on the next play. Wow.

2:15: Pats need a touchdown here. 3rd and goal at the 3. Pass excruciatingly through the fingers of tight end Christian Fauria in the end zone. Another field goal. 21-7 Patriots. Four long drives deep into Colts territory. Bad news for Indy, but the Pats keep the score a lot closer than it should be.

2:55: Nice lofted pass to Troy Brown for the first down.

4:06: Offsides penalty, Pats on the Colts 15.

6:17: Antowain Smith has a big hole up the middle, takes it for 34 yards to the Colts 35.

6:35: Three-and-out for the Pats defense.

7:15: I’ll feel better about the Pats’ chances if they get a defensive stop on this drive. James stopped on first play, second down pass batted down. Hmm…

7:28: 3rd & 10. 8-yard pass obliges the Pats to settle for a field goal, which is good. Pats lead 18-7. Observation: All three Pats’ field goals have been chip shots, which means they’re driving the Colts’ defense deep on every drive. How much legs will the Colts’ defense have left late in the game?

8:58: Another pass to the Colts’ 13. Nothing conservative about this offense.

9:40: First Test for the Colts defense fails: Larry Centers takes a short pass for about 28 yards.

9:49: James rumbles, then reaches over the goal line. Touchdown Colts. PAT good, 15-7, Pats. Interesting halftime adjustment: Colts remember Edgerrin James ran well early in the game; he runs for 32 yards on this drive, taking pressure off Peyton Manning.

10:23: First & goal after after another good James run.

11:11: James pounds the ball to the 9 yard line. 3rd & 3.

12:16: Colts at the Pats 25, Dominic Rhodes slashes to the Pats 15. Colts offense is impressive when it works.

13:40, 3Q: Colts go for it on fourth and short, get first down.

14:00, 3Q: Third and short after two good Edgerrin James runs. Marcus Pollard drops pass.

Opening kick: Colts runner takes it to midfield.

Packers-Eagles wrapup

Upcoming star vs. outgoing legend, ending about how you’d expect it.

The Favre magic wasn’t quite enough to stop the Eagles, but the Pack came extremely close. Eagles proved they are scrappy as hell and able to respond to having their fannies handed to them early in the game. But when they had the momentum going their way after evening the score at 14, they faded a bit. Not the kind of letup you want from an eventual Super Bowl champ.

Gotta figure they have a solid chance to take out Carolina next week, but I wonder if they can beat the best AFC team. Now everybody can hope for a McNabb- Manning matchup, which might create the kind of karma Carolina needs to pull the upset.

Gonna be a fun weekend, for sure. Not sure if I’ll blog it … probably won’t do play-by-play like I did this week; the constant updates throw my rhythm off. A fun experiment though.

Packers-Eagles second half

First half wrap: Eagles have a shot but haven’t convincingly stopped Favre. And they gave up a second grinding drive, which could be fatal late in the game (though the Eagles had a week off, so their legs might have something left)…. they stopped the Pack (mostly because Packers runner Ahman Green bumped into a lineman and fouled up his forward progress on fourth-and-1) at a time when the Pack was willing to be stopped. Favre and company proved they could get to the goal line just about any time they wanted.

(Hit refresh & scroll down for updates; each paragraph is an update).

Now I see another reason why the Pack went for it on fourth and goal: they get the ball first in the second half. Ahman Green runs for 7 on first down. Gets another 10 or so on third and 3. If Green keeps this up, he and Favre could be fatal for the Eagles.

Wow, major sack as the Philly defense sends six guys. I won’t say Philly needs to score on the first drive of the half, but a few first downs would be huge. Donovan McNabb has been getting plenty of time to pass but his receivers aren’t getting open. So far anyway.

Eagles still can’t stop Pack’s runners, though they are getting some pass rush on Favre. None of that gets ’em into the end zone, though.

OK, I will say Philly needs to score on this drive. Otherwise the Packers know they can stop them. Hmm. Holding penalty probably dooms ’em. Whoah, think again. McNabb rifles a bullet for a first down, and lofts one for nine yards. Could this be the turnaround?

Holding call thwarts ’em again. Ouch. Completion to Chad Lewis for about 12 yards… looks like the Eagles might’ve found a chink in the Pack’s armor. Big McNabb run to close the third quarter, with momentum shift favoring Philly.

Whoah, huge McNabb scramble and pass to Todd Pinkston puts Philly in the end zone. Tie game, first play of the fourth quarter. Interesting start after a mundane third quarter.

Hmm, Eagles starting to look decisive on defense. Those big guys in the Packers’ offensive line might be getting tired out.

Ouch, that drive gave the Pack defense a nice rest. McNabb sacked twice. Favre and company get the ball back at midfield. Times like this are when Favre shines. And guess what: he make a 44-yard completion. First & goal.

Third and goal: Favre tries a shovel pass inside that goes nowhere. Field goal is good; 17-14 Packers.

Eagles possession goes nowhere. Penalty nullifies good field position after punts. A few Pack first downs could put the hurt on the Eagles. Third & short and the Eagles need a stop right now.

Green runs for a few yards and a first down. Time isn’t on the Eagles’ side now. Those big drives they gave up in the first have could be taking their toll now. Huge offensive line surge carries Ahman Green to another first down on third and 2. Eagles stop ’em at midfield.

Seconds slipping away from the Eagles. McNabb has the ball at his own 20 with 2:21 left. Whoah, Duce Staley pops off a 20-yard run. All the Eagles need is to get into field goal position for a tie, though the way this game is going, they’d be well advised to go for the end zone.

Holy Toledo! McNabb converts on fourth and 26. Now in field goal range, 34 seconds left. Hmm, McNabb makes a few yards on an ugly option play. Pinkston completion at the 20 with 22 seconds left. Scary throw into the end zone almost picked off.

Field goal unit on the field with 10 seconds left. 37 yard try straight through. Overtime.

Philly wins the toss and will get the ball first. Did I call this one or what?

McNabb stopped tree times in a row. Penalty nullifies nice punt return.

Favre throws an interception, Eagles return it to the Packer 34 yard line.

McNabb hits Todd Pinkston at the Packers 22. Pack’s in trouble now.

Duce Staley pounds out an amazing run down to the 15. Now the Packers need a miracle. Kicker David Akers is 95 percent from this distance.

Akers bisects the uprights. Eagles win 20-17.

Packers-Eagles first half

Great matchup of two of the marquee quarterbacks in the league. (Hit refresh & scroll down for updates).

Fox just ran a skit of a pretend Rush Limbaugh gloating over putting the fire under Donovan McNabb’s fanny. Then a guy dressed as McNabb comes in and pummels him. Howie Long astutely notes the actor is a southpaw. Actually a bit funny.

Betcha didn’t know: James Brown of Fox Sports played basketball for Harvard.

Nice Fox piece on Brett Favre … a guy who’s been at his best when he can get beyond emotion and put his talent to work. He talked about being unable to think during the Oakland game, when he shredded the Raiders’ defense. Early in his career, Favre took huge chances that went wrong almost as often as they went his way. But he was always so damned talented, it was just a matter of getting his head (and maybe his heart) right. It’s the Michael Jordan-with-the-flu phenomenon … he plays better precisely when you think some distraction would, well, distract him up. There’s a parallel in photography I’ve noticed: if you want to get a good action shot, you click before the action happens because if you wait till you see it in the viewfinder, it’s over before the camera captures it. Getting the shot is instinctive, reactive. Success in sports is much the same.

OK, game time. Pack defense tough so far, forcing McNabb to burn a time-out. Three-and out, now it’s Favre’s turn. His first pass was nothing to write home about. ‘Nother 3-n-out. This is gonna be a brutal scrum that’ll probably go to the last series of downs.

Whoa, the ref with the fly stuck open was a hoot! (A Bud ad, not the game).

Favre’s playing with this splint on his thumb… his passes are looking rough. Advantage Eagles?

Know what? Coors Lite ads infuriate me because it’s the worst excuse for a beer on earth. That this weakass pisswater is even on the store shelves is annoying proof that propaganda works.

Whoah, Donovan chokes on a third and one! Fumble goes to the Packers.

Holy Shit! So much for Favre’s passes being shaky. He just passed for a 50-yard touchdown. Amazing.

Wild, McNabb just tore off a 42-yard run down to the Packer 15. Now the Packers defense has to think about McNabb running. Eagles are gonna have to settle for a field goal… score a moral victory to the Pack defense. Field goal misses.

Farve just did it again. Wonderful TD pass from about 20 yards out. Wow. 14-0 Packers.

About the only hope for the Eagles so far is that their defense gave up only one sustained drive in the first quarter. Usually if a team falls behind by two TDs in the first quarter, its defense has given up a couple of grinding drives and won’t have any legs left in the fourth quarter. Or maybe Favre will fracture his other thumb.

Well, that HP ad with the dolls on the city streets was way cool. But I wonder how many people thought it was an ad for Toys R. Us.

Eagles just got a crucial defensive stop … a long drive here would’ve been killer late in the game. Now, can they have their offense express-mailed to Philly in time?

McNabb nails a 44-yard strike, Duce Staley takes it in for the touchdown through a hole so big I could see it without looking at the TV. Talk about getting what they really needed when they needed it most. Hopeful turn for Eagles faithful.

Six minutes left in the half. Packers need to answer here at least with a field goal to prove they’re still in charge. Great run for Ahman Green down to the Eagles 4. Two-minute warning: Fourth and inches, Packers looked poised to go for the TD — a good call because even if they fail, they’ve got the Eagles pinned way deep.

Eagles defense holds .. a key stop that could be nullified if the Eagles offense can’t get something going (unlikely given the amount of time left: 1:47).

Blogging the playoffs

This is an experiment to see if I can follow along here with running commentary on the NFL playoffs from the couch.

OK, so there’s only one game left this weekend… I missed the double-overtime win by the Panthers yesterday. Can’t really cry over St. Louis being ousted. Right now the Chiefs are running out of time and two touchdowns behind.

Indianapolis is starting to look like the team of destiny all the sudden. Late in the season the Colts got spanked by Denver. I saw parts of it and wondered what the hell. But they returned to form last weeked and blasted Denver when it counted. Missed that game too. Seems like Peyton Manning has all his good games when I’m not watching.

Touchdown chiefs!

38-31 Indy. Onside kick to come, no doubt.

It’s all riding on this kick… ooh, they faked the on-side, now, can the defense hold after having failed all day?

Peyton just got a killer completion. Chiefs need a miracle now.

Nope, no miracle. Colts win, but do they have enough defense to take it all?

Sets up an intriguing AFC championship next week against the New England Patriots. No-Name Pats vs. the No-Luck Colts. Manning’s had two great games but I’m guessing he’s got his dad’s ‘Aints genes and will be denied.