Sunday, January 08, 2006

NFL Round Up, Wild Card Weekend

Washington Redskins 17, Tampa Bay Buccaneers 10
LaVar Arrington's interception set up Clinton Portis' 6-yard touchdown run, and Sean Taylor returned a fumble 51 yards for another first-quarter score for the Redskins. It was the 6th win in a row for the Redskins despite gaining only 120 yards on offense -- the lowest total in NFL history for a winning team in a postseason game.

"It's been a tough fight these last six weeks," said Washington linebacker Marcus Washington, who recovered a fumble and had a fourth-quarter interception. "We ain't ready to go home yet, so we're going to keep sawing wood."

New England Patriots 28, Jacksonville Jaguars 3 Tom Brady threw three touchdown passes, Willie McGinest broke two records for sacks and the Patriots set an NFL mark with 10 straight postseason victories. Tom Brady, who improved to 10-0 in the postseason, matched his playoff career high for TD passes, and McGinest set NFL postseason records with 4 1/2 sacks and 16 for his career.

"It's a great accomplishment," McGinest said. "We're not downplaying it, but they are not passing out any trophies tonight. We've got a long way to go."

Carolina Panthers 23, NY Giants 0
It wasn’t a good weekend for quarterbacks making their first play-off start. Chris Simms went down with Tampa Bay and Eli Manning struggled, giving up the ball four times.

"We challenged ourselves this week to know the Giants better than they knew themselves," said Carolina defensive tackle Brentson Buckner.

"It was strange -- they were in our huddle a little bit," said Giants running back Tiki Barber, who was held to a season-low 41 yards. "They kind of had us dissected and figured out and we couldn't get anything going consistently."

Carolina intercepted Manning three times, then forced him to fumble late in the game in front of a nearly empty Giants Stadium. Plaxico Burress was shut out the entire game and the Giants managed just 109 yards total offense.

"I didn't play well, and I made too many mistakes for us to win today," said Manning, who finished 10-for-18 for 113 yards. "It was not the way I wanted to come out and play. I look forward to coming back and getting better."

Pittsburgh 31, Cincinnati 17
OVER-RATED! OVER-RATED, I guess you could make that the official chant of the Cincinnati Bengals who ended their season with a three game losing streak.

You have to give the Bengals credit for making a play-off run but the big boys are playing now and when I say big, I mean big. Like the size of a bus! Jerome Bettis averaged 5.2 yards a carry and scored a 3rd quarter touchdown that put the Steelers up for good at 21-17.

The Steelers (12-5) will play in Indianapolis next Sunday, a chance to show how far they've come in the past month. Pittsburgh lost at the RCA Dome 26-7 on Nov. 28.
"We're the underdogs going into their place," said Ben Roethlisberger, who threw three touchdown passes. "Now we get to see what we can do."

Looking Ahead, Divisional Play-Offs

New England @ Denver

The Patriots did make a good run to win a weak division and head into the play-offs, but this is where the run ends. I know, I know you wanted to see a New England, Indy AFC Championship match-up, everyone wanted to see it. Well, too bad!

My Prediction: Denver 24, New England 17

Pittsburgh @ Indianapolis
The Steelers beat up on an over-rated Bengals team and they are the real deal now, right? Wrong! The Colts will slow down the Pittsburg rushing attack and will again be able to move the ball on a Steelers defense that will be out manned.

My Prediction: Indy 28, Pittsburgh 10

Washington @ Seattle
Two words, Shaun Alexander! The Redskins have the defense to shut him down but not him and Matt Hasselback. So, Redskin fans pick your poison. Who do you want to beat you?

My Prediction: Seattle 17, Washington 13

Carolina @ Chigago
Two great defenses and one mediocre offense, the Panthers will struggle to score but not as much as the Bears. The first team to score in double digits could win this one.

My Prediction: Carolina 13, Chicago 6