Deflation Prominent Storyline After Both Title Games
By John Ventola
Seattle scored fifteen points in forty-four seconds to take a last minute lead over an ultra-conservative Green Bay team that had outplayed the Seahawks for fifty-seven minutes of regulation. New England used touchdowns on its first four possessions of the second half to blitz Indianapolis. Although possible football deflation was mentioned after the Patriot’s home victory, the state of being deflated was on stage, front and center, during the NFC and AFC championship games. Green Bay’s came suddenly with the last minute meltdown and a Seahawks touchdown on the first possession of overtime. The Indianapolis deflation was gradual until the second half onslaught, when Tom Brady and LeGarrette Blount took both the kick and air out of the Colts.
The Seattle and New England victories were the type that leave opponents scratching
their heads, and wondering “what if” as they view game replays. One was a lightning bolt to the psyche, the other was a total blow to confidence. The outcomes have the Seahawks and the Patriots headed to Glendale, Arizona on February 1 for Super Bowl XLIX.
Aaron Rodgers, playing with an injured left calf, was intercepted by Seahawks star Richard Sherman on the game’s first drive, but managed to lead the Packers back to Seattle’s goalline twice in the first quarter. In decisions that would come back to haunt him, Packer coach Mike McCarthy decided to go for 18-yard and 19-yard field goals. On the first scoring drive, fullback John Kuhn dove into the endzone for an apparent touchdown, but a replay showed his elbow had come down at the half-yard line. The reversal, and Eddie Lacy’s unsuccessful dive on the next play, put McCarthy in position to set the tone of the game. He chose conservative, instead of aggressive.
Championship game, and you do not think your team can get the ball in from the half-yard line in two plays? Forget the visiting team and the underdog role, the early decisions created the doubt that would resurface at the end of the game.
Rodgers hit Randall Cobb with a 13-yard touchdown pass on the last play of the initial period, and when Mason Crosby added a 40-yard field goal with nine minutes left to half it meant the Packers had scored on four consecutive drives, three field goals and the touchdown. With Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson struggling, Seattle did not manage a first down until Marshawn Lynch made a 14-yard run with seven minutes left to halftime. Uncharacteristically, Wilson did not complete a pass until there was three minutes left in the half, and threw three interceptions in that time period.
Seattle’s productivity in the first half was puzzling, particularly with the raucous home crowd urging the team get started. Nothing seemed to work for Seattle as Rodgers managed the game well, and Wilson seemed to be completely out of sync.
The question most fans had when watching the game was could Green Bay maintain its composure and continue to make smart, and aggressive plays. Facing a 16-0 deficit
with four minutes left in the third quarter, Seattle coach Pete Carroll went to the trick bag and pulled a fake field goal, roll-out pass by holder Jon Ryan to tackle eligible Garry Gilliam. The Packers blinked (as they relaxed), and it cost them.
Green Bay showed some resiliency by driving downfield on its subsequent possession, but once again the play calling seemed to lose its aggressiveness. The Packers settled for a 48-yard field goal by Crosby to up their lead to twelve points, 19-7. When Wilson threw his fourth interception with five minutes left it appeared to seal things for the Packers. At least the interceptor thought so, dropping to the turf when there was space for him to return the ball.
It surely can be argued that McCarthy and his staff took their cue from their defensive back as they ran the ball three times and only ran a minute off the clock. Wilson came to life, Lynch regained beast mode, and Seattle scored at the 2:09 mark to cut the lead to 19-14.
Third string tight end Brandon Bostick, assigned a blocking assignment for on-side kick attempts by the Packers, failed in his task as he jumped for the kick and let it bounce off his helmet to Seahawks Chris Matthews. If Bostick had carried out his blocking assignment, Green Bay’s sure-handed wide receiver Jordy Nelson was waiting for the ball.
When Matthews came down with the ball, it seemed inevitable that somehow, some way the Seahawks were on their way to a dramatic come-from-behind victory. The gut-wrenching type. Driving fifty yards in seconds after the recovery, Lynch scored on a 24-yard run with 1:25 left to give the Seahawks a 20-19 lead. The two-point conversion showed just how much the game had changed in the final five minutes.
Green Bay seemed to be playing with cement cleats and dunce style helmets to cover their cheeseheads, while Seattle appeared to be playing with horseshoes in their pants. (Might understand, if it was the Colts). Wilson, flushed out of the pocket to his right, fired across the field and completed the two-pointer to Luke Willson. Two things occurred on the play. Wilson went against all football wisdom with the cross field desperation heave, and Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, who intercepted two passes earlier in the game, got in position to intercept or knock down the throw. Dix, inexplicably, acted like he, indeed, had been dipped in cement. He failed to jump, and Willson easily caught the ball in front of him. Seattle 22, Green Bay 19.
Rodgers showed what a competitor he is by leading the Packers to another 48-yard field goal by Crosby with fourteen seconds left to tie it at 22-22. The momentum had changed, however, and it was no surprise when Seattle won the overtime coin toss, and took only three minutes and nineteen seconds to put the Packers out of their misery. Wilson’s 35 yard touchdown pass to Jermaine Kearse sent the Seahawks to their second Super Bowl.
Do not know about the deflated football issue in Foxborough that the NFL is supposedly investigating. This writer just feels New England would have been beaten Indianapolis
even if nerf footballs would have used Sunday. The Colts could not stop the run or the pass and Indy quarterback Andrew Luck was way off his game. Luck was only 12 for 33 passing, and the Colts looked like a beaten, overmatched foe most of the game. In fact, it was the Patriots’ fourth consecutive victory over a Luck-led team during the past three seasons, each by at least three touchdowns.
Brady’s passing and Blount’s running led the offense while the Patriots defense clamped down on Luck and his mates from the opening gun. Brady and Patriots coach Bill Belichick are headed for their sixth Super Bowl together, and New England will tie Pittsburgh and Dallas for most Super Bowl appearances with eight.
There was deflation (of Packer egos and supposedly Patriot footballs) and humiliation (and maybe a huge ego deflation–the inept Colts performance) during the conference championship games. The NFL, and football fans everywhere, are hoping for a more competitive game than last year (Seahawks’ 43-8 win over Denver) when Seattle meets New England.Thanks For Visiting JV Sport Shots .Com’s Website And Viewing Our Latest Blog(s) / Page(s). We Would Really Appreciate It If You Would Leave Us A Comment Or Remark Below. This Helps Us Provide Great Sports Content; You Would Like To See In Future Posts.
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