A Perfect Weekend (Except the Bengals)

Wild-card weekend certainly lived up to its name, with three thrillers being decided by a total of six points. There was an epic comeback, and epic wind chill. Unfortunately, though, Andy Dalton and co. threw in an epic letdown to put a damper on things

Seven teams playing scintillating playoff football (some even dabbled with defense), and then Cincinnati. You know, the same old Bengals. Isn’t that what the weekend felt like? Great, great football on a 139-point Saturday, and drama galore in the last game of the weekend Sunday evening, the modern-day Ice Bowl in Green Bay (where the Packers, suddenly, have a home-field playoff disadvantage). But what an Akili Smith-sized egg the Bengals laid, and the resurgent Chargers were only too happy to take the win they overwhelmingly deserved.

Which of these things doesn’t belong:

a. 45-44, with a team winning after trailing 38-10.

b. 26-24, on a field goal at the gun by a kicker who was unemployed three weeks ago.

c. 27-10. Drama-free.

d. 23-20, in minus-14 wind chill, on a field goal at the gun by a 15-year NFL kicker who’d never won a playoff game.

Not to break any hearts in the Queen City, and not to set an NFL record for overreaction, but a snapshot of the 2011 and 2012 drafts show how sick Bengaldom must be today.

Overall Pick Player, Pos., School Status
2011
35. Cincinnati Andy Dalton, QB, TCU 0-3 in the playoffs. Not exactly a fan favorite today.
36. San Francisco Colin Kaepernick, QB, Nevada 3-1 in the playoffs. Pretty darn good.
2012
53. Cincinnati Devon Still, DL, Penn State 289 mostly futile snaps in two years.
75. Seattle Russell Wilson, QB, Wisconsin The second coming of Drew Brees, perhaps.

The Bengals have to be despondent this morning. They should be. They’re not sure if their 4,000-yard quarterback is the future of the franchise.

Sunday's wild-card loss was the eighth game out of 17 this season in which Andy Dalton committed two or more turnovers. (John Grieshop/Getty Images)
Sunday’s wild-card loss was the eighth game out of 17 this season in which Andy Dalton committed two or more turnovers. (John Grieshop/Getty Images)

So much to talk about after one of the great playoff weekends in memory, and let’s not be all Debbie Downer about it.

* * *

The divisional round schedule:

Saturday, 4:35 p.m. ET: New Orleans (No. 6, 12-5) at Seattle (No. 1, 13-3). They met five weeks ago tonight, at CenturyLink Field, and the Seahawks embarrassed the Saints 34-7. Seattle’s shown signs of mortality since.

Saturday, 8:15 p.m. ET: Indianapolis (No. 4, 12-5) at New England (No. 2, 12-4). The only game that isn’t a rematch of a regular-season game this year. They did meet last year, and the Pats put up 59 on the Colts. But T.Y. Hilton wasn’t T.Y. Hilton then. Come to think of it, Julian Edelman wasn’t Julian Edelman either.

Sunday, 1:05 p.m. ET: San Francisco (No. 5, 13-4) at Carolina (No. 2, 12-4). The Panthers won with stifling defense Nov. 10 at Candlestick, 10-9. Colin Kaepernick was smothered that day (107 total yards, six sacks). Left tackle Joe Staley will have his hands full with rising-star pass rusher Greg Hardy.

Sunday, 4:40 p.m. ET: San Diego (No. 6, 10-7) at Denver (No. 1, 13-3). Split during the regular season, including San Diego’s win at Denver 25 days ago. If you’re a Broncos fan, this should concern you: In eight 2013 quarters, the composite score was Broncos 48, Chargers 47.

First thoughts after a thrilling weekend of football (and don’t take my word for it; 30.8 million people watched Saturday’s twinbill, up 15 percent over last year):

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• Every game’s a revenge game now for the Niners. They’ve played four of the seven other teams in the playoffs and lost to all four—Seattle, Indy, Carolina and New Orleans. But they’re playing better now, winners of seven straight, and Colin Kaepernick has two trustworthy things he didn’t have in midseason: his own legs (he’s running with more confidence now) and Michael Crabtree.

• The Chargers can’t win a scoring contest against Peyton Manning, but they’re uniquely equipped to challenge Denver. Defensive coordinator John Pagano has the chess pieces to frustrate Manning, and no opposing coach knows the refurbished Manning like Mike McCoy—his 2012 offensive coordinator—does.

• Cam Jordan’s quick pressure could be the key for New Orleans in Seattle. Russell Wilson had tons of time the last time they played, and the emotion of the night will be hard to duplicate, even in a playoff game. Jordan was in Nick Foles’ grill consistently Saturday night. Protection of Drew Brees will be vital. It killed the Saints a month ago.

• Andrew Luck is so rare, so precocious and so able to put the past behind. The distant past, the recent past. He did it in the middle of a 38-10 debacle Saturday that became a 45-44 win over Kansas City. And he did it a year ago, after a four-turnover game at New England. Last year, I remember his quarterbacks coach, Clyde Christensen, telling me, “He’s a great forgetter. He came in that Monday [after losing 59-24 to New England], and I said to him, ‘Look, I know you beat yourself up all night, but you’re a rookie, on the road, playing Belichick, big game, and you drive us 80 for touchdowns in your first two drives. That’s big-time. We’ll work on the other stuff.’ And he knows.”

It’s highly doubtful next weekend can match the one we just had, even with the stinker in Cincinnati. But for different reasons, I love every one of these games.

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537 comments
PubliusK
PubliusK

Hey Peter.  I was looking at your One and Done piece and thought: finally someone is talking about Peyton's playoff futility.  Then I read it.  I thought that Jack Del Rio and Mike McCoy were asking Peyton if he was a one and done guy like he has been for the majority of his playoff career.  Peyton is a freakish fantasy guy.  It is the reason why he gets the love.  His stats are amazing, the best ever.  So if we're going to look at stats, why not look at these:  12 playoff appearances (amazing) 8 years or 67% one and done (not so much) and 10 seasons where he played in 2 games or less (seeing a trend).  In the seasons where 'he' was successful and went further, it was the defense that won it, not Peyton.  In his SB year, he threw 3 TD's and 7 INT's and got bailed out.  His career playoff record is sub .500 (9-11).  In other words, he does not win unless his defense is superior.  And this one gave up more points than any other team in the AFC other than the Raiders and Browns.  Add to this the fact that the team he is playing has never lost to him in a playoff game and has given up fewer points than all but 3 other AFC teams, we are not beating up on the poor guy, we're pointing out the obvious.  Can we take back his 'Sportsman of the Year' award when he does it again?

Jon8
Jon8

I like the all the home teams except Carolina.

scuser1985
scuser1985

I don't care what anyone thinks about previous games, it's going to be the Seahawks and the Broncos on that SB field. This 2014 Super Bowl survey tells us the same too (http://questionpro.com/t/AKpfOZQkn5) Sure, 49ers and Patriots come close, but I have a feeling we'll be seeing Russell Wilson step onto that field. 

cozmikrebl
cozmikrebl

Andy Dalton gets raked over the coals throughout most of the article leading the reader to believe he was the sole reason the Bengals lost yet when it comes to the headline we get "except the BENGALS" and under "things i didn't like"  "same old BENGALS". Well, whose fault is it Dalton's or the entire team? Make up your mind.

Fran Fried
Fran Fried

Factoid of the Week That May Interest Only Me: That you used to work in the original "Jeopardy" studio. Much coolness. I started watching the show when it first aired in 1964 and I was a precocious 3-year-old tot in Brooklyn. One of my life goals is to be a five-time champ. And I'm preparing to take the online test again tomorrow night. I've been in the contestant pool three times now -- the fourth has to be the charm, right?

kissandraknight
kissandraknight

peter ... either you or bedard needs to change the name of your column. seriously. what happened to creative thought? surely mmqb isnt all there is.

scottmacnj@aol.com
scottmacnj@aol.com

BTW- can anyone tell me what the rule for Pass Interference is now, regular season or post season? At least when the rule was yo couldn't touch an eligible receiver when the ball was in the air it was clear. Now with all the pushing off (both offense and defense) "incidental contact", etc. I have no idea what the rule is and I don't think the officials do either. 

scottmacnj@aol.com
scottmacnj@aol.com

If they are using all star officials how the heck did Jeff Triplett get in?!

Serena
Serena

Dalton 3 turnovers = Goat

Luck 3 turnovers = NFL glowing over him


An the media doesn't have favourites

GregAtkin
GregAtkin

Another great PK article  but  the Fouts/train conversation is just showing off.

We get it Pete; players call you.

Never ever did Friedman of the NY times or Elsberg mention how Presidents talked to them. It's like a pilot bragging that he talked to air traffic control.

JeremyMartinM
JeremyMartinM

Agreed about Andy Reid's dumb time management. Real dumb. 

MartinPStockdale
MartinPStockdale

Hey, PK. Here's your coffee nerd answer. I just cleaned my K-Cup machine for the third time following the same process.

Fill the reservoir with water until nearly full. Leave enough room for a cup of white vinegar. After adding vinegar fill to top with water.

Now just run the water through continuously, continuing to add water for 15 or 20 times.

After the 20th time or so, change out the cup you have been using and run it one more time. Take a big sniff of the hot water. If you still smell vinegar, run some more water through it. If no vinegar smell make a cup of coffee and do the taste test. It should be fine.

Like I said, used this method three times with great success.

usurper
usurper

Gushing about Kapernick when he was pedestrian passing wise against one of the worst D's in the league and lost the game for his team with an egregious pick on the final drive...except the Packer dropped it.  He had a couple nice throws and some fine runs in an otherwise poor game.

TimLynch1978
TimLynch1978

It's funny, every opponent for the 49ers now is a revenge game for them...but the Broncos ain't getting past the Chargers.  lol  The Broncos are 1-1 against Chargers...the 49ers are 0-1 against the Panthers.


Way to spread the love dillhole.

psychsports
psychsports

The Saint-Eagles game reinforces the old cliché –that is why they play the games!

Few gave the Saints a chance in this game and actually I had my doubts (see below). But I did think that Sean Peyton, Drew Brees and the crew were going to find a way to give Kelly’s group a hard time.

I also felt that Rob Ryan who is underrated in my opinion was going to do just enough to take the edge off the Eagles game and he did that and more.

Sean Payton and crew outfoxed Kelly no one gave the Saints a chance that is why they play the games.

Read more…..

-http://psychologyofsports.com/2014/01/05/saints-eagles-brees-payton-and-ryan-sink-eagles-updated-picks/

.

psychsports
psychsports

Andy Dalton is going to be stuck with the stigma that he cannot win in the playoffs until he does so. He had another horrendous game and his team joined him. The Bengals are going home left to figure out what went wrong after a great regular season and perhaps to ponder what to do with Dalton.

You can bet that there will be a ton of stories speculating if the Chargers are a team of destiny.

http://psychologyofsports.com/2014/01/05/dalton-and-bengals-fail-again-and-fall-to-chargers-denver-charger-preview/

jooo83
jooo83

Peter king should drop political views from his column. Not sure why he or others (Michael Wilbon, Bob Costas, etc) think we are interested in the marriage between political commentary and sports commentary. 

big55ed
big55ed

Would love to see the Chargers win the SB since they got in on the Steelers dime the same way the Steelres usually get in, bad officiating.

bbc
bbc

Would be fun to watch where Chargers end up on these rankings if they manage to win the SB. I'm guessing they might be able to nudge Saints and get as high as 5.

EmmittDale
EmmittDale

Fine fifteen is stupid once the playoffs start. Just make fine whatever amount of teams are still in the playoffs.

AlainLapointe
AlainLapointe

Predictions for next weekend , home teams will lose in the AFC and win in the NFC .

liquidmuse3
liquidmuse3

sooo...Peter King just told everybody about Aaron Rodgers probable social life, admomishing you to "leave it alone"...the exact opposite of what Peter King did by bringing it up.

wwwcash
wwwcash

correction:

andrew luck dug himself a hole and andy reid dug him out of it.

onemoremile
onemoremile

The Vikings took Christian Ponder with the 12th pick the same year that Dalton and Kaepernick were drafter 35 and 26.  Yeouch!

George
George

king actually DID make one decent point this week


I was amused and slightly aggravated by some of the "muggings" of receivers by dbs - that were ignored by zebras, with enabler-commentators providing the same old lame excuse:  "it's the playoffs - let 'em play." 


I hate cheap ticky-tack chicken-yet-game-impacting  PI calls as much as the next person -

but the refs need to at least try to call *flagrant* examples of pass interference and defensive holding the same way they do during the regular season.


Or hey, just remove defensive holding and pass interference rules during the playoffs altogether.  

Equip all defensive backs & receivers with sharp close-in-fighting hand daggers and pepper spray too while we're at it - fun to watch for the whole family!!  Let 'em "play!"

:D


Starstruck
Starstruck

Good photo in this piece of the Chargers contacting Dalton as he fumbled hitting the ground. He had full control of the ball before he hit the ground. Why doesn't the rule ' The ground cannot cause a fumble' apply here? Why does the NFL make an exception for a QB vs. any other position? This is a rule that needs to be changed. Once a QB starts running, he loses the protection that is normally afforded a QB under NFL rules. So why isn't he judged under the rules of a runner and protected against a fumble clearly caused by the ground?  

canadianox
canadianox

@Serena W despite 3 picks, 4 TDs passing, one rushing TD (in one of most heads up plays I have ever seen) and 443 yds helped the glow.

KevinB2014
KevinB2014

@Serena Seriously?  Luck's 3 turnovers were balanced by an incredible comeback effort. After his first two interceptions, his next two possessions resulted in TDs. Then the third interception, followed by three more TDs.  Dalton's 3 turnovers were balanced by.....nothing.

Luck's playing next weekend.

Dalton's looking into disguises so he won't be harassed by everyone in southwestern Ohio over the next 8 months.

Anyone who knows anything about football favors Luck over Dalton. Don't blame the messenger.

blynder
blynder

@Serena 

If Dalton had won; that might be different.  That's is a pretty big IF tho

GregAtkin
GregAtkin

@usurperNot an easy pick at all but i agree with your sentiments. Lots of blatant favouritsm with PK. But i still like the guy.

MartinPStockdale
MartinPStockdale

At least Dalton leads his team to the playoffs. Chokey Romo -- not so much.

MartinPStockdale
MartinPStockdale

It's Peter King's column. If you don't like to read what he wants to write, read someone else's column.

WCoastPro
WCoastPro

@jooo83 You might be the millionth person with that view. Don't think he cares if you still you read his column.

#31DShell
#31DShell

@big55ed You MUST be from Seattle. Believe it or not, the Steelers get their full share of bad calls too. I'll take Big Ben over Jerramy Stevens any day.

jj55
jj55

@bbcWell, maybe. Do you think Peter and the rest of the East Coast media would actually mention the Chargers by name if they won, or would they simply focus on why the other team lost? 

MartinPStockdale
MartinPStockdale

Yeah, that's a pretty valid point. Maybe he should rename it each week to something like Top O'the Heap of Who's Left.

#31DShell
#31DShell

@liquidmuse3 I hadn't heard about it until he mentioned it. Resisted the momentary urge to Google it. Continuing to do so.

canadianox
canadianox

@wwwcash Andrew Luck is filthy money.......he is more money than the US prints every month. I just drank a gallon of the koolaid on Saturday and think he will put up another 40+ points on the Pats. That being said, D may give up  over 50, seems like DBs for Indy don't mind letting receivers behind them.

canadianox
canadianox

@onemoremile Brady was a 6th rounder, Alfred Morris was too, so was Antonio Brown, Terrel Davis was 6th rounder for Broncos (Elway was pleased to see him). Ponder may be better than Dalton. Arian Foster wasn't drafted. Kijana Carter went first overall. Drafting is not an exact science, if it were, parity would be insane.

canadianox
canadianox

@George I have an even better idea than King's....IMHO....call the regular season PI penalties the same as they did this weekend. There is far too much throwing it up for grabs on long passes with  sole intention of looking for P.I. penalties.....specifically Brady, P Manning and Rodgers. It is so nice when players decide the game, not the officials.

Devilsreject97
Devilsreject97

@MartinPStockdaleHad Romo not gotten hurt, I say they make the playoffs....and playing with a messed up back like he did and winning the game he played....is pretty darn impressive. I'd rather have Romo than Dalton..

George
George

@canadianox @George True - up to a point.  I get sick of (e.g.) Broncos receivers going palms up and whining after every incomplete pass where a db had the gaul to try to cover them.


But there HAS to be limits.  Otherwise I just tell my dbs "mug the $#*t out of 'em and sit on 'em" right at the line of scrimmage, or hold / smother them if they get by you.   It's a complex issue with 2 sides to it.

Starstruck
Starstruck

@UBERTAXTHERICH Looks like a touch to me, but regardless, does a RB or receiver have to be touched to negate a fumble caused by the ground? 

pmk1790
pmk1790

@Starstruck @UBERTAXTHERICH The ball was already out before he was touched and the rule doesn't apply to any runners. Its mean so if a player in the air gets hit and loses the ball upon contact with the ground. Any time a ball carrier (RB, QB, TE, WR, etc) simply loses the ball after full possession without being hit (unless he gives himself up, which a headfirst dive is not) it is going to be called a fumble. 

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