Sports: The Division Playoffs

I watched all four division playoff games this weekend, for the first time, in about 20 years. This is what a pandemic can do to you. Normally, I would watch parts of a particular game, or the ending, if it looked like it might be close. Professional football is not what it use to be, and the game is really not all that exciting. We are down to the final four, with the Green Bay Packers hosting the Tampa Bay Bucs, and the Buffalo Bills, taking on the defending champs, Kansas City Chiefs, in Kansas City. I am going to give a brief synopsis of each game, because that is all they deserve, and then just some random thoughts, as it relates to the Steelers, and TV coverage in general. The first game of the weekend was Green Bay beating the L. A. Rams. By far, the most impressive unit of the weekend, was the Green Bay offense. But even as impressive as the Packers were, the Rams were still in the game trailing 25-18, going into the 4th quarter. The Packers got a great break on a fumble, that went right back to Aaron Rodgers, and then a few plays later, hit a 58 yard bomb, to wrap up the game. Then came Buffalo and Baltimore, or should I say, Bufoonalo and Butchimore. Between dropped balls, missed field goals, penalties, and general ineptitude, this game was laughable. The only good sequence of plays for both teams, came at the start of the second half, with Buffalo driving down, and scoring a touchdown, and then Baltimore doing the same thing, until they got inside the 10 yard line. That is when Buffalo intercepted a horrible pass from Lamar Jackson and returned it 101 yards for a touchdown and for this game, an overwhelming lead of 17 to 3. The next day started with Cleveland playing Kansas City. Even though Kansas City won by only 5 points, 22-17, and Kansas City lost their quarterback to a concussion, you never really thought the Chiefs were going to lose. Another game that featured a lot of dropped balls, and that ill-advised attempted stretch across the goal by the Cleveland receiver, which resulted in a touchback and Kansas City’s ball on the 20 yard line. There were some gutsy fourth down calls, but other than that another sleeper. Then, New Orleans decided to gift wrap a game for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Three turnovers all leading to touchdowns for the Buccaneers, with one touchdown drive being 3 yards. Another game where there were many mistakes, by both teams. Buffalo and Tampa Bay, will have to elevate their games, if they want to be competitive next week.

There were 5 quarterbacks over the age of 35, in the playoffs. Going from the youngest to the oldest, they were Aaron Rodgers 37, Ben Roethlisberger 38, Phillip Rivers 39, Drew Brees 42, and Tom Brady 43. There is no question that Ben plays like he is the oldest. My suggestion would be to shed the weight, and get back to playing the game. Both Brees and Brady made successful quarterback sneaks. Aaron Rodgers looks very mobile in the pocket and at times will pick up good gains running the football . Brees seems to have lost some arm strength but seems to move pretty well. Brady looks the same as ever. Ben, you need to recapture that zest to play the game. It was ironic to see so many 4th down chances taken in the Cleveland-Kansas City game, after Pittsburgh punted the ball away last week. The Browns went for it on 4th down, with more time on the clock, and deeper in their own territory. It’s called going after the win, Mike Tomlin. The coverage of the games was not too bad, but it did have it’s humorous moments. Tony Romo saying there is no way they are going to snap the ball, when the Chiefs snapped the ball and won the game. Troy Aikman still does not like any officiating calls and is always quick to point it out. But my favorite “analysis” was during the Green Bay game. There were two plays that were exactly the same thing but because the result was different there was a different analysis for each play. Aaron Rodgers was under pressure from the L.A. defense, scrambled around, threw slightly behind the receiver, the ball went off his hands for an incompletion and the L. A. defense was giving so much credit for “disrupting the play”. Then later in the game the exact same scenario happen. This time Rodgers scrambled, again threw the ball slightly behind the receiver, but this time the receiver caught the ball. The defense got no credit and it was all Rodgers. There is no question that dropped balls are pretty much ignored by the announcers of the game. They do mention them, of course, during the play itself, but the significance of them is quickly forgotten. I think that they want people to forget about some of the poor quality of play in the NFL. All networks are too busy trying to show replays and many times do not get back to the action until right when the ball is snapped and sometimes just after. This can be very annoying. Not quite as annoying as conducting interviews, while the game is going on. That has cut down, thanks to Covid. Next week will be the Championship Games, and it’s a good bet we won’t see any, that will be considered a classic.