NFL Conference Championship Reactions

     Now that both of the conference championship games have been played,  it’s time for me to give my first impressions on the games, while everything’s still fresh in my memory.
     Wow.  That’s the first word that comes to mind when thinking of game one of the day.  In one of the most improbable comebacks in postseason history, and what I’d call the best postseason finish since Colts vs. Chiefs last season, the Seahawks came back from a 16-0 halftime deficit, and a 19-7 deficit with three minutes left to take the lead, only to have the Packers make a game tying final-minute drive to send the game to overtime at 22 apiece.
     None of this should’ve happened, however.  The Seahawks turned the ball over five times, and the Packers were only able to put up 13 points off these mistakes.  Mason Crosby kept the Packers in the game by making all five of his field goals, but his first two kicks were essentially extra points, from 18 and 19 yards away.  In big games like conference championships, and especially on the road, and even more so when you’re playing the best defense in the game, it is essential that you put up touchdowns.  Even one touchdown instead of a field goal could’ve ended the game much sooner.
     On the Seahawks side, boy did they start out slow.  It almost seemed as if the offense didn’t know what team they played for by all the turnovers and miscommunications.  Russell Wilson didn’t even complete a pass until their was three minutes left in the first half, and then proceeded to throw a third interception before halftime.  The Packers were going into their home field and absolutely wrecking them.  The only reason they were able to stay anywhere’s near contention in the fourth quarter was the defense.  Four times the Packers were in goal to go situations in just the first quarter, and the Seahawks were able to force two field goals along with Richard Sherman snatching his second interception of the postseason.
     Something needed to change quickly, and the big momentum play that began to change the game was the fake field goal touchdown scored by the Seahawks in the middle of the third quarter.  The Seahawks, still down 16-0, could’ve elected to kick a field goal, but then they would still be down 13 points, and momentum would have probably stayed with the Packers.  However, by making the risky call to go for it and succeeding, the 12th man was able to really get back in the game and the Packers began to get a little nervous, never really getting their groove back on offense.
     Still, it wasn’t until the Seahawks gained possession of the ball with just under four minutes remaining that they had built on their previous touchdown.  In fact, they probably shouldn’t’ve even gotten the ball back, but the Packers three-and-outed on both of their possessions late in the fourth while trying to kill time.
     From this point on, the Packers defense really couldn’t do anything to stop the Seahawks, because it was time for Russell Wilson to stop being the Russell that had thrown four picks earlier in the game, easily his worst career game to that point, and become clutch Russ who leads the Seahawks to victory consistently.  Also not to be underestimated was Marshawn “Beast Mode” Lynch’s contributions to the final two drives, with big yardage gains on each drive.  He finished with 157 yards and a touchdown
     But again, none of this occurs if the Seahawks can’t miraculously recover an onside kick just prior to the two-minute warning.  The Seahawks scored rapidly once they had recovered the kick, putting up another six in under a minute, then proceeded to go for two and get it to improve the lead to 22-19, another crucial play the Seahawks don’t win without.  If they fail and only take a 20-19 lead, the Packers ensuing drive gives them the 22-20 victory.  The Packers really shouldn’t’ve allowed this conversion to succeed, and it really cost them big time.  They perfectly executed a blitz, chasing Russell Wilson all the way to the 20 yard-line where he finally just tossed the ball up near the goal line on the opposite side of the field, where Luke Willson bobbled and then caught the ball and walked in the end zone after poor defense from Ha-Ha Clinton-Dix (although he did have two picks earlier in the game).
     Aaron Rodgers was able to lead a great one minute offense to get Mason Crosby a good field goal to tie the game and send it to overtime, but Seattle quickly scored a touchdown in overtime, completing the biggest comeback in Super Bowl era conference championship history, and surely leaving the Packers with a sour taste in their mouths, knowing one really got away from them.  You have to play good four all four quarters to beat Seattle in Seattle, and they struggled on both sides of the ball in the second half.
     The Patriots-Colts game went very similar to how I thought it would go.  I expected the Patriots to win this game pretty easily, despite most people expecting this to be the closer of the two games, but even I wasn’t expecting the Patriots to have such an easy time offensively.  These guys were basically unstoppable, and the Colts especially couldn’t stop LeGarrette Blount, who was plowing through defenders en route to 148 yards and 3 touchdowns.  That’s the fifth straight game that the Patriots have had someone rush for triple digits against the Colts.
     As for Andrew Luck, the struggles only continued against the Patriots, as he falls to 0-4 in his career against Tom Brady.  Today set new lows for Luck, however, as he completed a horrendous 12 of 33 passes for a season low 126 yards and two interceptions.  Besides their touchdown drive, nothing came on offense.  In their sole scoring possession, the Colts gained 93 of their 208 offensive yards, essentially have their offense in just four minutes of the game.
     This game was basically over by the middle of the third quarter, and there wasn’t much doubt in this one pretty much the whole way.  The Patriots had a complete performance, stellar on both sides of the ball, and definitely deserve to advance to Phoenix for the Super Bowl.
     The Patriots will now advance to their sixth Super Bowl in the Brady era, where they currently sit at 3-2, but haven’t one a title in ten seasons.
     Now that these games are done, it’s time to relax for a week before media week begins and all the talk of the sports world is shifted to the Super Bowl.
   

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