As we continue what might be the most entertaining NFL playoffs in recent years, we sum up each teams’ performance this past weekend in one word.
- Tennessee Titans: Predictable
We all saw this one. Cool, they took the lead early, good for them. Was there ever a doubt that New England A. Wouldnt score in bunches or B. Find a way to stop Mariota, and… Yeah… Mariota. Tennessee pulled off a great upset against an inconsistent Kansas City in the Wild Card round, but Kansas City is no New England. We all thought Tennessee would get blown out, and they didn’t disappoint in that regard.
- New England Patriots: Statement
On the other side, New England came in as the heavy favorite, and showed the world just exactly that. They stumbled early on, but quickly evaporated any chance of a second concsecutive upset for Mariota, and company. The offense moved at will, the defense shut down the Tennessee offense the rest of the way. Lets face it, there was a better team here, and New England defended Gillette with ease, showing it was more than just ‘on paper.’
- Atlanta Falcons: Mercedes-Benz-less
Ok, so this isnt an actual word, but it means a lot to the Atlanta Falcons. The Falcons are a solid football team, they are almost unbeatable when playing at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. The problem is, when they arent playing in Atlanta, they become easily beatable. The Falcons had the chance to put away the Eagles in the first half, and couldn’t find a way to get it done. One could easily argue, had this game been played in Atlanta, Falcons win in a blowout. However, it wasn’t. Someone needs to tell Matt Ryan, Julio Jones, and company they play at least 8 additional games outside Atlanta every season, as they clearly havent gotten the memo.
- Philadelphia Eagles: Resilient
The Eagles entered as the ‘underdog,’ despite being the home team. Everyone knew points were not necessarily going to be easy to come by with Foles heading the helm at QB. Atlanta seemed to be the better team in the first half, but they let Philadelphia hang around, even after a botched PAT from Philadelphia’ kicker Jake Elliot, which proved to be uncostly in the final outcome. The Philadelphia defense kept Matt Ryan, and star receiver Julio Jones in check, as Philadelphia was able to hold on with a late redzone stand.
- Jacksonville Jaguars: Determined
The Jags were determined to prove that they werent a team to be overlooked. They set out to prove can beat any team on any given Sunday led by a dominant defense. The defense definitely bent against a top notch Pittsburgh offensive attack, but all in all, played just well enough to hold on. The battle won’t get any easier for this group, as they play a top notch, AFC favorite, New England Patriots team that just demolished their divisional opponent. Despite doubts, as the Steelers collected themselves coming out of the locker room, the Jags were determined enough to hold off the home team, and it was done on the offensive side of the ball, rather than defensive. Give em’ credit, they took advantage of a team that clearly had their heads in everywhere except the field on Sunday afternoon.
- Pittsburgh Steelers: Arrogant
Ahh yes, could it have been the fact it was the Jaguars? Could it have been the fact they were looking ahead to a potential AFC title rematch with New England? Could it have been that star RB La’Veon Bell was more interested in a contract negotiation than preparing for this weekend’s contest? Could it have been that Steelers coach Mike Tomlin went out of his way to endorse a potential coaching candidate for another team during his teams’ preparations? How about E. All of the above. Clearly, the Steelers weren’t ready for this game. They publicly acknowledged their attention wasnt warranted, and only the mighty New England Patriots deserved it. The Jaguars are not the Jaguars of old, and by the time the Steelers figured that out, they found themselves down 21-0. Their offense woke up late in the first half, but the non-existent play of the defense proved to be too much to overcome.
- New Orleans Saints: Gritty
After falling 17-0 on the road, the Saints could have easily rolled over, and allowed Minnesota to cruise to an NFC title berth. Instead, they battled back in the second half, and did everything they could to assure a victory. After Minnesota took the lead back with under 2 minutes to play, they could have again, threw in the towel, but again, they picked up a first down on an all or nothing 4th & 10, as marched down the field for what looked like to be a game winning field goal with 25 seconds remaining. The Saints may have been on the wrong side of what was a phenomenal game played by both teams, but it certainly wasn’t due to a lack of phenomenal resiliency, hustle, and determined play on their on their end.
- Minnesota Vikings: Miraculous
Forget the fact that they blew a 17 point lead. Forget the fact that after retaking the lead, and having a chance to secure a conference championship birth, they allowed New Orleans to convert on a 4th & 10. Theyre calling it the ‘Minnesota Miracle.’ When all hope was lost as it came down to one final play on their own 40 yard line, Keenum threw up a prayer near the sideline to WR, Stefon Diggs. Diggs, not only hauled in the pass, but managed to avoid a tackle, stay on his feet, had the presence of mind to stay in balance, and take it to the house for what will sure go down as one of the greatest endings in NFL history. It goes to show you, no matter where a team is on the field, you don’t give up until the clock reads 0:00. It’s this mentality that allowed the Vikings to pull off the miraculous play, and what is now known as, the ‘Minnesota Miracle.’