View Full Version : Judgements: NFL gets Super Bowl to sink its teeth into

01-24-2011, 07:18 PM
Judgments: NFL gets Super Bowl to sink its teeth into

By Clark Judge
CBSSports.com Senior Writer
Jan. 24, 2011Tell Clark your opinion!

1. Sorry, New York and Chicago, but this is the Super Bowl America wanted, and, guaranteed, it's reflected by TV ratings and the price of the ticket. No one has a stronger nationwide fan base than Green Bay and Pittsburgh, which means ... you got it, that Sunday's big winner was the NFL.

2. I see where the Packers are an early 2˝ point favorite, and here's my guess why: The game is indoors, which means the Packers play on a fast track. You saw what happened the last time they were there. Apparently, the oddsmakers did, too. For the record, Mike McCarthy is 11-6 indoors and 1-1 inside during the playoffs.

3.. Here's another reason to like Green Bay: The Packers haven't been behind by seven points at any time this season and trailed for only three minutes of the playoffs. They also became only the third team to reach the Super Bowl by winning three straight road games. The last two to do it -- the 2007 New York Giants and 2005 Pittsburgh Steelers -- each walked off with a league championship.

4. It's your worst nightmare, Dallas. :toofunny::toofunny:The Pittsburgh Steelers, the organization with one more Lombardi Trophy than your Cowboys, is coming to town to try to make it two more. Bad enough that they may extend their NFL lead; worse that it could happen deep in the heart of Texas.

5. Guess this means we know where the President won't be in two weeks.

6. Rex Ryan was so angry with Sunday's loss he threw his hat and headset to the ground once the outcome was decided. Mike Tomlin, on the other hand, did nothing ... until afterward. As he walked away from a postgame news conference and headed to the locker room, he said in a voice loud enough for reporters to hear, "Next time we play them it'll be personal, I'm sure." In other words: This one's for you, Rex. Touche.

7. I'll tell you what got Pittsburgh to the Super Bowl: That 3-1 start. Without Ben Roethlisberger, I thought 2-2 was a best-case scenario and that 1-3 was a possibility. Instead, Dennis Dixon and Charlie Batch win three and come this close to closing out Baltimore in the fourth. So what? So that meant the Steelers won the division, gained a first-round bye and didn't have to go to Baltimore -- or anywhere else -- for the playoffs.

8. It was 20 degrees in Chicago, with a wind chill of 7. It was 17 degrees in Pittsburgh, with a wind chill of 5. Yep, that 2014 Super Bowl in New York is going to be Can't-Miss TV, which is how you're going to want to watch it.

9. Tell me Green Bay and Pittsburgh aren't perfectly matched. They were Sunday, each jumping to impressive first-half leads, then holding after their offenses shifted into neutral. Neither team scored an offensive touchdown in the second half, with the Packers gaining 104 yards and six first downs and the Steelers 56 yards and seven firsts.

10. I'm not about to call him Jim Everett, but Jay Cutler deserves the heat he's taking. I mean, he's one win from the Super Bowl and leaves because of a knee injury? You gotta be kidding me. Philip Rivers played the entire 2007 AFC Championship Game on one leg -- operating with a torn knee ligament one week after undergoing arthroscopic surgery. No one questions Rivers' toughness; they will Cutler. Correction: They already are.

11. With Cutler, Chicago had one touchdown vs. Green Bay in 28 possessions this season. It had two in five Caleb Hanie series. Just saying.

12. I'm with Rex Ryan. I thought the Steelers' choice to throw on their last series -- twice, no less -- was "gutsy," as Rex put it. And I can think of at least 10-15 head coaches out there who never, ever, ever would have tried what Pittsburgh did. Of course, they don't have Ben Roethlisberger, either.

13. If the AP were to hold its Coach of the Year vote today, Green Bay's Mike McCarthy would win. Not only is he in the Super Bowl; he made it with starters losing an NFL-high 91 games to injury, according to the Dallas Morning News.

14. Look at it this way, Jets fans: At least we don't have to listen to a dozen Joe Namath wannabes guaranteeing a Jets Super Bowl victory. When Broadway Joe did it, it was bold, brash and novel. When these Jets do it, it's just another day at the office.

15. Next time, Sam Shields, fall down when making a game-ending interception, and if you want an explanation I suggest you ask Marlon McCree. The former Chargers defensive back blew a 2006 playoff game vs. New England by fumbling away what should have been a game-ending pickoff. You do not run because of the risk of a turnover, simple as that. You simply go to the ground, OK? Class dismissed.

16. Don't tell me special teams don't win games because they just did. Green Bay does not make it to the Super Bowl without punter Tim Masthay. Five of his eight punts were downed inside the 20 and a sixth should have been. In a game where field position was critical, Masthay was the Packers MVP, not Shields.

17. I'll tell you what I love about the Steelers: Continuity. Not only don't they change head coaches; they don't change players. And if you don't believe me look at their roster: There are 11 starters left from their Super Bowl team of five years ago.

18. OK, Chicago, so you lost. Now get on with business and extend Lovie Smith's contract. His job was on the line this year, and he responded by taking the Bears to the conference championship game. He should be rewarded.

19. New England was criticized for its casual approach to a fourth-quarter drive last week that consumed 7:45 and produced zilch. So how come nobody is critical of the Jets' last drive? It took them 3:41 to cover the last 36 yards. Granted, they found a touchdown where the Patriots scored nothing. But the Jets never saw the ball again.

20. With the Steelers -- not the Jets -- going to the Super Bowl, this is definitely NOT "a slap right back in those guys' face" ... do I have that right, Santonio Holmes?

Five guys I wouldn't want to be

1. Anyone sitting in the stands at either of Sunday's games. Consider this your dress rehearsal for the 2014 Super Bowl, folks.

2.Jay Cutler. He had his chance. He blew it. Now he has the whole offseason to explain himself.

3. Referee Ed Hochuli. It was so cold in Pittsburgh he had to wear long sleeves, and you know that had to be tough for him.

4. Pittsburgh center Maurkice Pouncey. He left the game after the opening series and was on crutches by the end of the game. I know he has two weeks to heal, but he also has a high ankle sprain -- and good luck with that. Pouncey had the injury before so, as he said, "I know how to attack it. I'm ready. I know in my heart that I'm playing in that game." Only it's not the heart that makes a difference here, Maurkice. It's the ankle.

5. Rex Ryan. He just can't help himself. Shortly after losing, he congratulated the Steelers only to paint another target on his chest. "I plan on being back," he said, "and this time we will beat them." I know that's who Ryan is. It's just that after two misses people are getting tone deaf.

Five things I like

1. Caleb Hanie's gutsy performance. He's a third-stringer, for crying out loud, with a résumé of 14 career passes entering Sunday's game. All I know is that he looked a lot better than Chicago's first two quarterbacks and, in the second half, better than Aaron Rodgers.

2. Aaron Rodgers' courage. There are some quarterbacks who would not have made the tackle -- or even tried to make the tackle -- on Brian Urlacher. Rodgers did, and he saved a touchdown ... and maybe the game. "One of my better tackles," he said.

3. Everything about LaMarr Woodley in the playoffs. He has 10 sacks in six games, and that's not just good. It's the best performance of anyone out there.

4. Pittsburgh's timing. The Steelers' victory happened on what would have been the 81st birthday of Myron Cope, former Pittsburgh broadcaster and originator of the Terrible Towel. The Steelers aired a Cope video on the stadium big screen after their first TD, with a "Thanks for the memories" sign off, then waved Terrible Towels after the victory.:tt04::tt04:

5. Mark Sanchez's performance. He's 0-2 in conference championship games but, as he did last year, he played well enough to win. Sanchez wasn't the problem; the Jets' run defense was. For the second straight game he finished with a passer rating of 100 or better (102.2), but more important: He rallied his team from a 24-0 deficit on the road and nearly pulled off an improbable upset against Pittsburgh.

Five things I don't

1. Lovie Smith's decision to punt from the Green Bay 31, down 14-0 in the first half. He had to have points -- any points -- but passed. Kicker Robbie Gould had the wind at his back, but Lovie punted ... and the Bears netted 11 yards. Sorry, don’t get it.

2. Mike Martz's third-and-3 call on Chicago's last drive. The Bears used their second time out to call ... a run by Earl Bennett? It got them nothing. In fact, it lost two yards. Plus, it cost them a time out.

3. The Jets' tackling. Pittsburgh had 135 yards rushing in the first half. The Jets allowed 206 in their previous two playoff games -- or roughly the number of first-half misses Sunday. "It was just bad football," safety Eric Smith said. OK, I buy that.

4. New York's play-calling on a fourth-quarter drive that ended at the Pittsburgh 1. Sanchez throws on second and third downs, then the Jets run LaDainian Tomlinson -- not Shonn Greene -- on fourth. Huh? You pound the middle of the line with Greene. The Jets didn't. They didn't score, either.

5.Aaron Rodgers' third-down pass that Brian Urlacher intercepted at the goal line. He should have taken the sack or thrown the ball away. Then the Packers get a sure three points. Instead, he nearly cost his club a touchdown.

Just asking but ...

• What happened to Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay offense in the second half?

• Is that it for LaDainian Tomlinson and Jason Taylor?

• Dick LeBeau or Dom Capers?

• When's the last time a conference championship team played three quarterbacks?

• If you were Lovie Smith, and the Bears scored on their last drive, would you have gone for the two-point conversion?

Significant numbers

0 -- Chicago conversions of it first 10 third down attempts
0 -- First-half catches by Santonio Holmes and Braylon Edwards
3 -- Chicago points in last two games against Green Bay with Jay Cutler at quarterback
5 -- Straight Pittsburgh playoff wins under Mike Tomlin
9:05 -- Elapsed time on Pittsburgh's opening drive
16 -- Straight playoff games where the Steelers haven't allowed a 100-yard rusher
56 -- Second-half yardage for Pittsburgh
31.8 --Jay Cutler's passer rating
37.64 --Aaron Rodgers' second-half passer rating
10-2 --Ben Roethlisberger's playoff record