What a week for the National Football League. A double overtime thriller, a few young guns lighting it up , and a historically great quarterback finding a way back to a place he calls home, people in Hollywood couldn’t come up with a better script. Records fell, stars rose, and we are coming even closer to the pinnacle of the sport. As a San Francisco 49er fan it’s hard to imagine anyone who’s go it better than us… nobody.
This was one of the greatest games you will ever see. 5 ties, 2 special teams’ touchdowns, a pick 6, and a 70 yard touchdown in the final minute to force overtime. Overtime is one thing, this game went to 2 overtimes and was the 4th longest game in NFL history. Absolutely amazing.
Of the storylines in this one Peyton Manning threw 2 interceptions and lost a fumble. It was his 8th loss in the first game of the playoffs of his career. Overall he played well enough to win, and would have if his defense didn’t give up late touchdowns at the end of each half. In the end, you are always remembered for your last pass, and his was an interception.
Joe Flacco is scrutinized for not leading his team to the Superbowl, but in his last 3 playoff games he has outplayed his opponents in Andrew Luck, Peyton Manning and Tom Brady. He is the only quarterback to win a playoff game in each of his first 5 seasons and has won more games than anyone else since he came into the league. Flacco is scheduled to become a free agent at the end of the year, there’s no way the Ravens allow that to happen, but depending what he does this upcoming weekend could really effect his bank account.
- Joe Flacco has more playoff wins than Aaron Rodgers
- Peyton Manning is now 0-4 in the playoffs when it is below 40 degrees
- Manning is 9-11 all time in the playoff, with 4 losses coming with a top 4 defense
- Of the 8 quarterbacks in the divisional round, Manning had the lowest QBR.
Ok so while our young rising star quarterback took the spotlight there was a lot of other bright spots for the 49ers. Jim Harbaugh possibly deserves to be coach of the year after making the bold move at quarterback and how he has sustained his success from last year. His game plan versus the Packers was perfect as they outplayed and outcoached the opposition.
WR Michael Crabtree had a great season, becoming the first Niner over 1000 yards receiving since 2003. What he did against Green Bay was even more impressive. Over 100 yards receiving along with 2 touchdowns. He has become everything we hoped for when he was drafted in the first round out of Texas Tech.
Despite giving up 31 points, the defense played great against Rodgers holding him to 6.6 yards an attempt. For reference that’s somewhere between Fitzpatrick and Sanchez numbers. The defense really only gave up 17 points if you take out the Kaepernick pick 6 and the garbage touchdown in the final seconds that came after a phantom penalty took away Brown’s second pick of the game.
The Packers were thought to be the biggest threat out of the NFC and the 49ers showed there is no doubt who the true favorite is. The 49ers now take over the title of favorite on the road to face the Falcons.
- Kaepernick ran for 181 yards, a single game rushing record for a quarterback
- Kaepernick accounted for 4 touchdowns, the same number as Alex Smith in last year’s divisional game versus the Saints
- The 49ers set a single-game franchise postseason record with 323 rushing yards
I had a hard time predicting this one. Seattle matched up well, but to long back to back road trips and the fact that the Falcons play great at home made me want to take the lesser team. While the Falcons had a 20 point lead at half, it looked like Seattle was the better team.
The Seahawks left a lot of points on the field, and to the 49ers fortune. Seattle is a hit you in the mouth, physical football team that gives the 49ers problems. Atlanta, much like Green Bay, is a finesse football team that the 49ers have been able to beat since Harbaugh took over as head coach.
Atlanta and Matt Ryan were finally able to pull the monkey off the back by getting this playoff win. In a game they were winning by 20 for the majority of the contest, they looked scared to death in the 4th quarter. Even in post-game interviews, they looked more relieved to win than happy they won.
- This game marked the first time in postseason history a road team that was down by 20 came back to take a lead
- Each quarterback completed 24 passes with QBR ratings of 86.4 (Wilson) 85.4 (Ryan)
- This was the first playoff win of Tony Gonzalez’ career.
This game was probably the worst of the weekend. The Patriots had dominated the Texans a few weeks prior, so you would think the Texans would have made adjustments. Nope. The final score of 41-28 was closer than the actual game, as it was 38-13 early in the 4th.
Once again the Patriots have shown they are a force in the postseason and once again Brady is just one win away from playing for another Superbowl. For the first time in a long time they have been able to run the ball on offense. Add that to a defense that is starting to come together and it will be hard to imagine a way this team doesn’t represent the AFC in the big game for the next 4 years.
The Texans however go into the offseason with questions. Last year they had an excuse being down to a 3rd string rookie quarterback and plagued with other star injuries. This year they were healthy, but struggled down the stretch costing them the #1 seed, home field advantage, and fell to third in the final week to miss out on a bye. Is there a quarterback issue, a coaching issue, or is this team just missing complimentary players to surround its stars.
- Brady is 17-6 in the playoffs, Joe Montana was 16-7 (these include Superbowls Brady 3-2, Montana 4-0)
- Brady is going to his 7th conference championship game, tying him with Montana (Brady 5-1, Montana 4-3 in those games)
- With the Patriots win, it marked the first time 3 of the 4 championship games representatives were the same as the previous year since 1993(Dallas, San Francisco, Buffalo)
For the 2nd year in a row the 49ers find themselves in the final four of football. Hopefully this year we find a way to make it to the big game. While there may only be 4 teams and 3 games left, there is a lot of football left in the books. To think the Niners are only 2 victories away from hoisting up there 6th Lombardi. Will they get there? We’ll find out.