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JetNation’s Playoff Roundup

by Nick Ferraro

The second round of the playoffs provided more clarity to the NFL season as a whole. It is clear that the Seahawks are a solid, yet not dominant, team. It is clear that the Patriots late run was partly due to improved play and partly due to inept competition. It is clear that the Colts did make a mistake in taking off the last three weeks of the season, and that the Steelers, minus a few games without Ben Roethlisberger, are as good as anybody. It is clear that it’s nice to play in the NFC North where you can compile an impressive record despite having just two wins against winning teams. The last and most important moment of clarity will come this Sunday in Denver where the Steelers will visit the Broncos in this year’s Super Bowl.

Seattle 20 Washington 10

The Seahawks were able to overcome the loss of MVP running back Shaun Alexander to win their first playoff game in 21 years. Alexander’s concussion did little to aid the Skins cause. The visitors allowed the Seahawks 119 rushing yards with the MVP accounting for only nine yards on six carries. The Seahawks controlled the game but were hardly dominant allowing the Skins to stick around down just a TD until just under three minutes to play. Seattle will find the Panthers much more challenging this week.

Stats of the Game:

1. The Redskins were just 5-19 on 3rd down for the game.
2. Seattle held the Skins to just 59 yards rushing. Clinton Portis gained a total of just 94 yards in Washington’s two playoff games.
3. Daryl Jackson was Seattle’s biggest weapon. He grabbed 9 passes for 143 yards and a TD.

Denver 27 New England 13

Last year’s champions fell hard in Denver on Sunday. Five turnovers led to the first post-season loss for Tom Brady. Champ Bailey picked off Brady’s ill-advised third-quarter pass into the Denver end zone on the game’s biggest play. Bailey ran the interception back to the Patriot one-yard line where Denver would grab control of the game one play later on a TD run by Mike Anderson. Brady was harassed consistently by Denver’s blitzes, which kept the Patriots off balance all game. The special teams even failed the defending champions who watched Adam Vinatieri miss a makeable field goal try, and the usually sure-handed Troy Brown botch a punt leading to another Denver TD. The Broncos gained home-field advantage with the Colt’s loss and need to run their record to 10-0 at home to reach the Super Bowl.

Stats of the Game:

1. The Patriots turned the ball over five times Saturday while only losing six in their previous ten playoff games.
2. The Pats had 82 penalty yards and 79 rushing yards.
3. Denver held the Patriots to just 3 points on seven first half possessions.

Pittsburgh 21 Indianapolis 18

The Steelers shocked the Colts in Indianapolis. The Steelers controlled the Colts offense with varied blitzes that kept the pressure on Peyton Manning all game long. Manning was able to lead his team to just three points through three quarters of play. The Steelers went to the air early in a surprise move that helped them build a 21-3 lead heading into the 4th quarter. The Steelers most telling success was in keeping the Colts off the scoreboard on two late drives that could have provided the home team with a lead.

Stats of the Game:

1. The Steelers allowed the Colts just 58 yards rushing. The Colts gave up on the running game attempting just 14 runs for the game.
2. The Colts managed just 20 yards in their first four possessions of the game.
3. The Steelers allowed the Colts five plays or less on five of their ten offensive possessions.

Carolina 29 Chicago 21

The Panthers had their way with the Bears number-one ranked defense on Sunday. The Bear’s regular-season defensive stats were rendered meaningless after the Panthers rolled up 434 yards and 29 points on the home team. The Panthers offense has been impressive in two playoff games posting 52 points and 769 yards of offense. The game leaves serious questions as to whether a cream puff schedule allowed the Bears to compile an impressive regular season.

Stats of the Game:

1. The Panthers gained 123 yards on the ground averaging 4 yards per carry.
2. Steve Smith is still open. Smith left the Bear secondary in fits while snaring 12 passes for 218 yards and 2 TDs.
3. The Bears got to Panther’s QB Jake Delhomme just once as Delhomme completed over 72% of his passes for 319 yards and 3 TDs.

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