So what do we know at this point, kiddies? No matter how good your offense is, come playoff time, your defense will be the deciding factor.
How else can you explain the 49ers and Giants still being here? It wasn’t just Alex Smith/Vernon Davis and Eli Manning/Hakeem Nicks. It was more of their defenses doing their part as well.
Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers had two amazing seasons which could either have them share the MVP or finish 1-2 with Rodgers winning. Yet all their throwing was no use to staring at a great defense or watching their defense finally let them down.
Consider the AFC too. Baltimore forced four turnovers on a rookie QB-led offense. And New England? Well, besides Tom Brady being Brady, ask Tim Tebow about that beating he took BEFORE halftime, let alone after.
Even in this offensive era, you still need a team to play great defense. I remember the Greatest Show on Turf being hampered by this 10 years ago. Super Bowl 34, they were up 16-0 and nearly gave the game back. The next two years, their defense let them down despite them trying to beef it up.
We all know what happened to New England in 2007, one of the greatest offenses in NFL history. Couldn’t sack Eli Manning, defend David Tyree or not let Plaxico Burress catch the GW TD wide open. Sometimes you can’t just outshoot teams off the field. Even in this offensive era, you have to have some semblance of a great D. That’s your NFL Truth from last week. On to the tidbits.
- Despite what I just said, give it up to Calvin Johnson, DeMaryius Thomas, Vernon Davis, Jimmy Graham, Darren Sproles and Hakeem Nicks putting up record postseason catching numbers
- So 49ers/Saints for Game of the Year right? What more can you say. A 17-0 lead, a great comeback and a frenzied 4:02 to remember ending with the Catch 3. Vernon Davis crying reminded me of Terrell Owens crying after the Catch 2 although VD played much better than TO did.
- Want some more irony? Alex Smith got his revenge against Drew Brees and the Saints for what they did in Week 2 last year. For those who forgot, Smith led a late scoring drive against the Saints in SF only to watch Brees march down the field and set up a GW FG.
- Goodbye, Tebowmania. This is the postseason. You know? Where Brady shows his true genius. The Broncos getting housed by halftime made it feel even better.
- Genius strategy by the Pats running Aaron Hernandez out of the backfield. That’s a tight end, folks. Poetic justice of him being a factor in running his former college QB off the field.
- Joe Flacco: 4 straight seasons with a playoff win. As much as you want to love Tim Tebow, Joe Flacco just wins ball games. He wins on the road too. Quietly consistent doing his job.
- Yo, Arian Foster was a beast in defeat. Loved how he and Ray Lewis traded jerseys because if there is one person in the league you want respect from, it’s Ray Lewis.
- Eli Manning’s new nickname should be The Bride cause who dishes out revenge better? Tom Brady in the Super Bowl, now Aaron Rodgers. As much as I want the 49ers to win, revenge is a dish Eli serves as well as anybody.
Oh yeah, that pass to Hakeem Nicks before halftime was beautiful/poor D. That’s how you kill a team’s spirit (and my blog post praising Aaron Rodgers)
Looking ahead to this week, 49ers-Giants – a rematch the game where the 49ers earned national respect shutting down Eli’s last drive. But it reminds me of another famous meeting.
10 years ago, both teams met in the wild card and it was one of the craziest comebacks/collapses I ever saw. Giants were up 38-14 and cruising in the 3rd and all a sudden, the Niners caught fire quick. They scored 25 points and survived a botched field goal attempt for the win.
It was the last time the 49ers were in the playoffs before this year. Here they are now. Finally better. Finally back to where they used to be in my youth. I’m sure older heads will remember the 1991 NFC title game where the Giants survived a slugfest with them.
Meanwhile, I remember the Pats-Ravens game in 09. The day I realized Ray Rice was a beast and Tom Brady isn’t invincible (even though Denver and Champ Bailey showed me that before). The Ravens thrashed the Patriots in a way I hadn’t seen them look in years. Think they remember that one?
The game could hinge on how Ed Reed is feeling after injuring his foot in the waning moments of last week. It’s hard to stop Rob Gronkowski but can the Patriots stop Ray Rice and force Joe Flacco to beat them?
My picks: 49ers (Can’t go with the Midgets despite Eli swinging his Hattori Hanzo so I go with the miracle worker Jim Harbaugh) and Baltimore. Harbaugh Bowl Part 2 for all the marbles.