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Tuesday Morning Overreactions

This just in, the NFL has decided to remove the roman numerals from this year's SuperBowl logo. Instead they have replaced it with the following: T.O.? This due to all the hype that is bound to be directed at Philadelphia star loud-mouthed receiver Terrell Owens. In an official announcements the NFL was quoted as saying "Beware, there is two weeks between this year's conference championship games, and the Superbowl. That will give us plenty of time to allow T.O. to alienate everybody outside of the Philadelphia area. We are proud that he is going to be overexposed, and this is why we have officially removed the roman numerals from this year's game. It will now be known as Superbowl T.O.?"

T.O. has of course responded to this news by hogging even more of the spotlight. Networks have not missed a beat, and have aided him in this respect. During the NFC Championship game Fox cameras were constantly looking over at the sidelines for shots of T.O. waving his arms. The T.O. fest continued as on Monday, he mentioned that the reason he is so far ahead in his healing, is because God is personally healing him, to be ready to play in the big game. Methinks if your God is wasting his time healing Owens with all the worries in the world right now, it's time for a new god.

I told him, lose or rue

The fates in charge of the football karma do not take kindly to long personal streaks. Ask Gary Anderson who's perfect season led to a botched fieldgoal that kept his Vikings from the Superbowl in 1998.

Ask Mike Vanderjagt who had 41 consecutive field goals, but missed a game tying fieldgoal against New England in week 1. A loss that was still affecting the Colts, as they were humbled in the snow at Foxboro Stadium in the divisional playoffs.

As I mentioned many weeks ago, Pittsburgh QB Ben Roethlisberger was on a personal win streak of over 25 games. I also mentioned that if Big Ben went into the playoffs without losing once during the regular season, it would mean doom for the Steelers in their quest. The Patriots even helped Big Ben out by losing the Dolphins late in the year. This meant the Steelers could still lose, and not miss out on homefield advantage.

Instead Roethlisberger entered the game with his win streak intact, and proceeded to play like the rookie he is, and threw 3 interceptions in the Steelers loss to the Patriots. Once again the fates chose to end a personal streak at the worst possible time for the team. Team streaks are okay, personal streaks are not.

Come on we dare you!

Last week many "experts" wondered how the Patriots were going to stop the Colts and their amazing passing attack. Belichick simply devised a game plan to keep Manning off the field.

This week many "experts" wondered if the Patriots RB Corey Dillon would be successful running against the Steelers formidable defense. Instead Belichick decided it was time to open his offense. Belichick started the game by trusting his QB and opened up his offensive game plan. The result a 41-27 victory. The 41 points was 14 points more than their average for the entire 2004 season.

Bill Belichick has become a master at taking away an opposing teams best weapon. He sits on the sidelines and dares the opposing team to give them their best shot, knowing he's got the way to combat it. Is it any wonder Bill Belichick has a postseason record of 9-1, matching that of the great Vince Lombardi.

Open it up!

A big problem for many teams in the playoffs is that since the games mean so much more, teams play tighter than normal. They'll go conservative and settle for 40+ yard fieldgoals, rather than take a shot at the end zone. They'll get predictable and run the ball, for fear of the INT.

The two teams who will be playing in the big game this year did the exact opposite. The Patriots as noted before scored 14 more points than usual, including a 1 play 60 yard TD Drive following a Pittsburgh fumble. Meanwhile Pittsburgh went through the game willing to run on first and second down, despite the Patriots loading the box.

In the other conference, Andy Reid, who has been criticized for being conservative in the Eagles three consecutive conference championship losses, let his team continue to be an open offense. He trusted his QB Donovan McNabb to throw it downfield, and they responded by finally getting over the hump.

The Falcons though were more than content to not go downfield. They ran the ball all day, including a run on 3rd down and 10. When they did throw most of the time it was to the TE, or a RB coming out of the flat.

Teams that open it up offensively, and trust their offense and defense both usually win. Even the Baltimore Ravens of 2000 opened up their offense during their Superbowl run with Trent Dilfer. Teams that get conservative end up with a 5-12 record in the postseason, right Marty!

To run or not to run

The NFC Conference game was a matchup of two teams with mobile running QB's. The main difference between the two teams though is that one QB would much rather throw, and will run only as a last resort, or to get a WR open. The other QB otherwise is always too eager to take off and run, and doesn't look for a WR to get open after he's taken off.

Eagles QB Donovan McNabb has said for years that he wants to be thought of as a Pocket Passer. During the game on Sunday McNabb showed how a QB can be both mobile and a pocket passer. Whenever McNabb would get pressured he'd take off and run, but rather than immediately head for the line of scrimmage, he would simply run around, looking downfield the entire time, until he had a WR open. Once he found the WR he would throw it for an even bigger gain.

His counterpart, Falcons QB Mike Vick, is thought of as one of the most exciting players in the game. Vick likes to make plays with his feet. He is more comfortable running than he is throwing, and it shows. It also hurts his team badly. Whenever he's in the pocket, he's always got shifty feet, ready to take off and run at even the slightest hint of pressure. During an important drive the Falcons were down 7-0, and facing 3rd and goal. Vick got the ball and began to be pressured, in true Vick fashion he tucked the ball and looked for a way to run. When he tucked the ball, the player defending Falcons TE Alge Crumpler left his man to go get Vick. Crumpler was wide open in the endzone, Waving his hands, doing a dance, making a banner, anything to get Vick's attention. Since Vick doesn't look to throw once he's started running, he simply tried to run through a hole that wasn't there, and got plowed by a defender. Falcons settled for a field goal, and never really were a threat again.

Being a mobile QB is a good thing, but you must still be a pass first type of QB. Until Vick learns this, and becomes more comfortable throwing the ball downfield, he will never be anything more than a glorified Randall Cunningham, who was also once named "the NFL's most dangerous weapon."

Momentum is a fickle thing

In every game there is that moment where momentum can shift. Sometimes it happens multiple times in a game, sometimes it's one big swing that changes the balance of the game. It can happen early, or it can happen late. Sometimes it's a lucky bounce, and sometimes it's the way a teams plays, or the choices they make, that are a big contributing factor to momentum.

In the NFC Game Atlanta got the ball first. Insisting on running despite the box being loaded up they were stopped on first and second down. On 3rd and 10 the Falcons were unable to get a play in and had to use a timeout, on THE 3rd PLAY OF THE GAME. They failed to make a play on 3rd down and had to punt. The punt went a net total of 8 yards. Their inability to do anything on the first drive, combined with the confusion that led them to use a timeout started the momentum swing. The earlier mentioned play where Vick failed to look downfield further pushed momentum to the Eagles, and it never swung back.

The AFC Game though had momentum swing back and forth. The Patriots opened a 10-0 lead, and further pushed the lead to three TD's. Momentum was clearly in their favor. The Steelers then scored to make it two TD's. They started to get momentum back. They then forced a stop against New England, more momentum. As the 4th quarter began, the Steelers drove the ball to 4th and 2 and the New England 2. The Patriots had done a good job scoring all day against the Steelers Defense. Time was running out, not only on the game but on the Steelers season. A Fieldgoal still means you have to score twice, if you can stop their offense. A TD means you have momentum, you are now down only one score, and much closer to coming back against the defending champions.

Out trots the fieldgoal unit, the crowd starts to boo, the bobbleheads praise Cowher for making the right decision, while I pick up the pieces of my exploding head because Cowher is giving the game away. The figgie is good, Patriots lead by 10.

Momentum, however, clearly shifts to the Patriots who were able to stop the Steelers drive. They get the ball, drive down, kick a field goal to go back up by 14, this time with only 8 minutes left in the game, and securely wrap up the momentum, and their 3rd Superbowl in 4 years.

If the Steelers go for it and fail, the Patriots would get the ball most likely on their own 2 yard line. The Steelers defense is known for being aggressive and pressuring the QB. Kicking the field goal simply means that the Steelers were afraid they couldn't get the extra 2 yards.

Sideshow's Superbowl Rankings

Well we know who will occupy the top 2 spots. Here are the rankings for the remaing teams.

Rank (LW)


Last Week's Results

Up Next


1 (1)

New England

Won 41-27 vs. Pittsburgh

Superbowl T.O.?

Belichick is 9-1 in the Postseason. Brady is 9-0. If they get to 10, Patriots become Dynasty.

2 (4)


Won 27-10 vs. Atlanta

Superbowl T.O.?

Will finally getting over the hump be enough, or will they still be hungry, and how sick and tired is everyone of T.O.?

3 (2)


Lost 41-37 vs New England

Re-signing Plaxico Burress, and wondering if the Bus will be back.

Cowher now 1-5 at home in Conference Championships. Maybe next time they should try for second best record in conference.

4 (3)


Lost 27-10 vs. Philadelphia

Finding a gameplan that throws the ball more than 3 yards downfield.

Vick may be exciting but Superbowl is more exciting. Falcons won't make it there, till Vick looks to pass.