Monday, January 15, 2007

And Then There Were Four

It was an exciting weekend of football in the NFL Divisional playoffs, and the best game of the weekend was undoubtably the Patriots win over the Chargers in San Diego. The Pats pulled out a stunning 24-21 win on Stephen Gostkowski's field goal with 1:10 left. The huge crowd at Professor Thom's just went bananas as the Patriots clinched an appearance in the AFC title game for the fourth time in six years.

As much as I felt good for all my pals who are Patriots fans, I really felt badly for my dear friends Peggy and Ken, who live in San Diego and are devoted Chargers fans. A part of me really wanted to see the Chargers win for them. But the Chargers have a very good team and will be back in 2007.

And with this loss, you have to wonder about the job security of San Diego head coach Marty Schottenheimer. Once again, Marty's team doesn't reach the Super Bowl and they were the best team in the NFL over 16 games.

Nate Kaeding missed a 54-yard field goal attempt in the final seconds that fell well short, and the Partiots went into celebration mode, some of which rubbed many of the Chargers, including LaDainian Tomlinson, the wrong way. A few of the Pats mocked Shawne Merriman's "Lights Out" dance at midfield. Tomlinson, who's known as one of the classier players in the NFL and is not a showboat or a "check-me-out" hot dog, took a shot at head coach Bill Belichick, saying the display "maybe comes from the head coach." Belichick is not known for encouraging that type of behavior, and it was unfortunate that the game ended like that.

But it takes nothing away from the Patriots great win. Tom Brady found yet another way to win, to add to his continuing legacy. He is now 12-1 as the Patriots QB in the playoffs, and the Pats now have a date with the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday night in Indy.

The Colts upset Baltimore, 15-6 on Saturday, as their revitalized defense once again picked up the team, as Peyton Manning had another below par day.

The Bears beat Seattle in overtime on Sunday, 27-24, on Robbie Gould's 49-yard field goal four minutes into the fifth period to give Chicago the home field in the NFC title game. They will be hosting one of the more incredible stories in sports in the New Orleans Saints, who earned their first NFC title game appearance ever by beating the Eagles, 27-24, before a raucous crowd at the Superdome.

It's hard to root against the Saints, so I'm picking them to go to the Super Bowl against the Patriots on February 4.

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