The Niners won, just like I said they would. The Patriots blew out the Broncos, just like I said they would.
Can I get an amen?
So far, my NFL revelations look a lot better than my one college prediction from last week, when I picked LSU to win the BCS over Alabama.
Wrong, wrong, wrong.
But two days ago, I preached (probably to the choir) that Tom Brady and the New England Patriots would crucify Tim Tebow and the Denver Broncos by 21 points.
That turned out to be a conservative estimate, as the Pats exorcised Tebowmania with an old-fashioned asswhooping, 45-10.
Brady threw six touchdown passes in the game and tied an NFL playoff record, putting him alongside Oakland’s Daryle Lamonica and San Francisco’s Steve Young.
Lamonica threw six TD passes in a playoff game against the Houston Oilers in 1969, and Young did it against San Diego in the 1995 Super Bowl.
Oddly, Brady had a chance to surpass the record early in the fourth quarter, but Belichick called for three straight running plays. It’s hard to say if it was sportsmanship, gamesmanship or just plain old divine intervention.
I wasn’t surprised by the blowout, although the fear of god was put in me early in the second quarter when Denver scored a touchdown to trim New England’s lead to 14-7.
But my prayers were soon answered when Brady threw for three more touchdowns and secured a 35-7 lead at the half.
You could see this route coming, couldn’t you?
You have to believe that all of the Tebow talk this year stuck in Brady’s craw just a bit. You have to believe that the New England QB wanted to make a statement. You have to believe that every other player on the Patriots was sick of hearing the name TimTebow, too.
Since you have to believe in something, why not Brady? Ain’t nothing mystical about that, just talent, skill, and good old American know-how.
Score one for the non-seculars.
Besides, the real miracle came earlier in the day when the 49er Faithful watched the Niners sneak past the New Orleans Saints by a, 36-32.
They won with offense. They won with two fourth-quarter touchdowns. They won with Alex Smith and Vernon Davis for crissakes.
Can I get an amen?
The competent but normally workmanlike Smith turned into an avenging angel Saturday, connecting on three touchdown passes and a surprising 28-yard TD run—the longest playoff run by a quarterback in SF franchise history.
Hell, I didn’t even know Smith could run at all.
The defense played as expected, forcing six turnovers and pressuring Saints QB Drew Brees all day long. Running back Frank Gore turned in a solid performance, including a 42-yard run that led to a fourth-quarter field goal.
But the miracle happened on the 49ers final offensive play, when Smith hit Davis for a touchdown with nine seconds to go, reminiscent of Steve Young’s pass to Terrell Owens to defeat Green Bay back in 1998 and on the 30-year anniversary of “The Catch,” when Joe Montana hit Dwight Clark in the end zone to defeat the Dallas Cowboys in 1981.
In the end, not even a Hail Mary could save the Saints, so they didn’t even try.
I don’t know exactly what to make of this. A born again 49ers offense puts the NFC on notice and adds a new wrinkle to my playoff predictions.
If the NY football Giants can somehow upset the Packers at Lambeau Field, I think the Niners could beat the Giants at Candlestick and go on to the Super Bowl.
But I do not think the 49ers can beat the Packers in Green Bay. I know. Me of little faith.
I’m sticking with my earlier predictions. I’ll be rooting for the Texans and the Giants this afternoon, but I still think Baltimore and Green Bay will meet in Indianapolis.
Sure hope I’m wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrong.
Can I get another amen?
[UPDATE at 8 p.m., Eastern Time]
Well, what do you know. The NY Giants defeated the Green Bay Packers, 37-20. That means the 49ers get to play the NFC Championship at Candlestick.
The Super Bowl Blog—Giants win! Giants win! Giants win!
I pick the New York Giants to win the Super Bowl. But if they don’t, then my record is intact—every time I bet for or against the Giants, I’m wrong.
Here’s why I’m picking New York after I picked them to lose against Green Bay and San Francisco in the playoffs.
First, Eli Manning really is the elite quarterback he said he was halfway through the season.
Second, that ain’t no 26th-ranked defense. It might have been during the regular season, but during the playoffs it was the third-ranked defense behind the Ravens and the 49ers.
Among Super Bowl contenders, it’s the first-ranked defense for sure.
Tom Brady will play better than he did against Baltimore in the NFC Championships—and look for both Wes Welker and Danny Woodhead to have big games as well—but it just won’t be enough.
The NY defense will harass Brady all day long, Eli will continually find ways to win, and the real difference in the game will be the lack of a healthy Rob Gronkowski at tight end for the Patriots.
True, Gronkowski’s not even on the injury report, but I saw how his foot got bent backwards two weeks ago and I don’t think it’s had enough time to heal. Not good.
So Giants win the Super Bowl, 31-28, and Eli Manning wins MVP.
I’ll update this report during each quarter. Should be amusing. Meanwhile…
• • •
The Associated Press recently handed out honors to NFL standouts during the 2011-2012 season. Here are the results.
Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers won the MVP award, while Saints QB Drew Brees won Offensive Player of the Year. That seems like a fair compromise.
Baltimore Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs won Defensive Player of the Year. I was definitely pulling for 49ers pass-rushing specialist Justin Smith, but Suggs works for me.
Carolina Panthers QB Cam Newton easily won Offensive Rookie of the Year. He surpassed Peyton Mannings’s rookie passing record with 4,051 yards, and set a single-season NFL QB rushing record with 13 touchdowns. Denver Broncos linebacker Von Miller won Defensive Rookie of the Year honors.
Lions QB Matthew Stafford won the Comeback Player of the Year Award. How a 23-year-old in only his third season even qualifies for the award is beyond me. My pick, and it’s the right one, was 49ers QB Alex Smith.
Finally, Jim Harbaugh won his well-earned Coach of the Year honors.
• • •
First Quarter Comments:
—First play by Brady leads to a safety.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m no Brady hater, I love the guy. But he ain’t no Joe Montana.
And he’s rattled. Just sayin’.
—With 3:24 to go in the first quarter, the NY Giants are Cruz-in’. See what I did there?
—At the end of the first quarter, NY leads 9-0. I’m also 2-0 on beers to coffee, so if these updates become riddled with typos, you have to let it go.
You have to.
—Best commercial during first quarter, Pepsi’s. I always thought that Flavor Flaves big clock was a euphemism for something else that rhymes.
Second Quarter Comments:
—With 13:40 to go in second quarter, New England hits a field goal. That more than makes up for the safety. Heh.
—Best commercial of the second quarter, goflora.com. You know why. Although I liked the French bulldog commercial by Sketchers until Mark Cuban showed up.
The Doritos commercial was clever, but no cigar. And the Ameritrade commercial? Wrong baby. Sorry, but when you want Charlie Sheen, Ashton doesn’t cut it.
—Wow. Danny Woodhead caught a touchdown pass with eight seconds to go in the half. Did not see that coming. He caught zero touchdown passes during the regular season.
— And at the end of the half, it’s New England Patriots 10, New York Giants 9.
Half Time Comments:
—Here’s hoping for a wardrobe malfunction.
—Best commercial, Bridgestone (Madonna). Sure, it was all prerecorded and lip-synced, but I’ll take that over Roger Daltry’s live off-key performance during Super Bowl XLIV.
—Betty White has jumped the shark. Sorry.
— Whoa. I spoke too soon. Clint Eastwood’s commercial for Detroit—and subtextually for Barack Obama—beat out Madonna’s. Like Woodhead’s touchdown, I did not see that coming.
Third Quarter Comments:
—With a little more than six minutes to go in the third, the Giants hit a field goal. Not good. Every field goal is another score closer to losing (yes, I’m paraphrasing Steve Young).
—The sack of Brady with 5:30 and some change in the third could be the turning point in the game. He might be injured. Beyond that, if the Giants keep up the pass rush the Patriots are doomed. Period.
—With 35 seconds to go in the third, Giants hit another field goal. Not good for NY.
—Best third quarter commercial: The one with Jerry Seinfeld. Advertising what, I have no idea. Honorable mention commercial: The NFL’s.
— And at the end of the third, it’s New England over New York, 17-15.
Fourth Quarter Comments:
—Really? Two time outs burned by the Giants?
—Four minutes to go in the game and WELKER DROPS THE PASS. Unbelievable. That’s your play of the game.
—3:39 to go in the game and Manningham makes a catch. It looked clean in slow motion, but how do you make that call live? NFL refs are amazing.
—Three minutes to go. Run, run, run, Giants.
—Two minutes to go and they give it to Ahmad Bradshaw. Good idea!
—Short pass. Okay. Run, run, run. Good run, Bradshaw. Waste a Patriots time out.
—Uh-oh. Bradshaw scores, so Brady gets the ball with :57 to go. Guess Bradshaw doesn’t know a gimme when he sees one.
—If Brady wants a fourth Super Bowl ring, he’ll definitely have to earn it.
—Just to get this out of the way… best fourth quarter commercial: The Honda commercial with Matthew Broderick. Not the best cause though—I love dogs.
—Great catch by Deion Branch. Keeps the game alive.
—Giants have too many men on the field. That’s a coaching error.
—With five seconds to go, Brady gets one more Hail Mary. He ain’t no Joe Montana and he ain’t no Doug Flute.
—Final score, New York Giants 21, New England 17. Great game.
—And I have to admit, as much as it pains me, that Tom Coughlin is a great coach. Nobody accidentally wins this twice, even with a great quarterback. Ask Don Shula.
Odd, because he reminds me of the elderly crank in my neighborhood who won’t give my baseball back (to this day, in fact). Or the 1800 Tequila guy.
But you have to give it up—two Super Bowl rings are not a fluke. One might be, though.
Let’s ask Brian Billick.