There was history being made all over the place this weekend in the Playoffs, which made for some really exciting games. Sure, we may not have got very many of our predictions for the games right (actually, we only got one), but we got other things right. Who predicted the Texans would get a pick six? Oh yeah, we did. Who said that Calvin Johnson would set a new record for receiving yards in the playoffs? Yup, us again. I’ll even so far as to say that we predicted that Steelers/Broncos game would come down to the wire, we just didn’t get the right team pulling out the win. So how did our predictions turn out compared to the real games? Well, let’s take a look.
Texans 31, Bengals 10: There were certainly some moments the Bengals could have seized in this game, like dropped interceptions, but in the end the Texans’ formula for success - solid defense and a strong running game - got them their first playoff win. Foster put up 153 yards and 2 TDs, a bit better than what we predicted while Yates went 11 of 20 for 159 yards and a TD, pretty close to the 13 of 22 for 162 yards in our game. Dalton went 27 of 42 for 257 yards and 3 INTs, and who predicted he’d throw three picks? Oh yea, we did when he went 17 of 31 for 299 yards 1 TD and 3 INTs in our game. This was the one game that pretty much played out like our sim, including a pick six from the defense (we had two in our game).
Broncos 29, Pittsburgh 23: Okay, there were a couple time Denver could have won this game in regulation, including the huge gaffe on calling a clear backwards pass an incompletion instead of a fumble, the no-call on Tebow getting facemasked that could have put them in field goal range. Then again, had the Broncos got TDs instead of field goals, none of that would have mattered. Or if Champ Bailey makes that interception in the end zone, none of it would have mattered. But this is Tebow and the Broncos we’re talking about, and if it isn’t dramatic and tense all the way through the final seconds, it’s not their kind of football. The Steelers and Broncos had the first overtime game in NFL history, and then they had the first overtime game with the new rules in NFL history, and then the Broncos ended it with the fastest overtime in NFL history on one play. That’s spectacular. Is Tebow the man? Well, he came out throwing and he delivered with 10 of 21 for 316 yards and 2 TDs; about double what he did in our game. He also had 50 yards rushing and a TD, and he had 49 yards and TD in our sim. We said Redman would have a big day, he went 121 yards in the game, short of the 133 yards and 2 TDs of our sim. And then there’s Thomas, pulling down 4 catches for 204 yards and the winning TD. Big games produce big stars, does Denver have theirs now. You know, it’s funny, all week people were talking about how Pittsburgh was the scariest team in the playoffs and what they’d do against Baltimore and the Patriots and how good they are despite the injuries, but Denver out played them. Will Denver get its due for doing so? Or will people talk about how injured and hampered the Steelers were and take something away from this amazing feat by Tebow and the Broncos?
Cincinnati 20, Houston 27 - It’s a battle of rookies in the first Wild Card game. Houston has made it to the post-season for the first time in history, can they win a playoff game? The Bengals and Texans squared off earlier in the season and it was close, and this game may not be any different.
Both teams started off kind of shaky in the first quarter with each rookie quarter back throwing an interception. First it was Dalton, then it was Yates. The Bengals were able to turn there good fortune into points with a 25 yard field goal. However, Houston settled in for the rest of the first and opened the second quarter with a 2 yard run by Foster for a TD. Then, the Bengals bungled and threw another interception, which the Texans took back for another touchdown. After a couple of three and outs, the Texans took the rest of the first half and drove in range for a 43 yard field goal.
The Bengals came out roaring in the third, with Green taking it in from 46 yards out for a TD to get Cincy back in the game. The Texans fizzled on their next drive, and the Bengals kept the momentum going with a long drive that ended with a 1 yard TD run by Benson. As the fourth quarter began, the Texans were able to get into the red zone but couldn’t find a way to punch it in for a TD, so they settled for a 21 yard field goal. The Bengals now controlled their fate, but I guess the fates weren’t with them. Dalton threw up his third INT, and the Texans rumbled it back for another TD. The Bengals were able to get a 19 yard field goal and missed the onside kick, which seemed to end the game right there. However, Foster fumbled the ball, the Bengals recovered, and then made one of the most spectacular pass plays of the season, check it out:
I don’t know how that ball ended up in the receiver’s hands, but it did and the Bengals had a shot at taking it to over time. But that vaunted Texans defense held, and they were able to get out with a close win for their first playoff appearance.
Yates ended the day 13 of 22 for 162 yards and 1 INT while Dalton went 17 of 31 for 299 yards, 1 TD and 3 INTs. Foster rumbled for 98 yards and a TD, but the Bengals were just as effective on the ground with Benson going 93 yards and a TD. Green for the Bengals had a spectacular day with 152 yards and a TD, but it was the Texans defense coming up with two pick-sixes that really made the difference in this game.
Denver 14, Pittsburgh 17 - No one’s giving Denver a chance in this game, and who can blame them after the Broncos offense went into the fetal position with super-conservative play against the Chiefs in week 17. Still, the Steelers are banged-up, Denver’s D has the potential to play well, and Tebow can make things happen. Still, it’s the league’s best defense against the worst offense; it would truly take a Mile High miracle for this outcome to change.
Denver started the game strong. The sacked Big Ben on the first drive which led the Steelers to punt, and then the Broncos scored on an 80 yard screen pass to McGahee (you hear that Denver, a pass play, a short, simple screen pass play; try it some time).
Aside from that, the first quarter was fairly uneventful, but thing got interesting very quickly in the second. The Steelers got down the field to the goal line, but Denver’s defense held and they had to settle for a 12 yard field goal. The Broncos were forced to punt, but then recovered a fumble during what looked like was going to be a scoring drive for the Steelers. Unfortunately, the offense struggled to get anywhere and then Denver missed a 52 yard field goal; something that would come back to haunt them in the end. The Steelers rumbled down the short field and punched it in to the end zone with a 2 yard scamper by Redman. The Broncos tried to push it down field to score one more time before the half, but instead pushed the ball in the hands of the Steelers with an interception. Fortunately, they missed their own field goal from 45 yards out to end the first half.
Once again Denver set out to regain the lead, but this time fumbled the ball and Pittsburgh recovered. Working the clock, they drove the field and eventually got in the endzone with a 7 yard run by Redman. It’s the fourth quarter and Denver needs a miracle, and so Tebow took over and took the Broncos into the end zone with a 5 yard rush. However, time was against them, and the Denver defense couldn’t stop Pittsburgh from running the clock with a couple key third down conversions. And so time ran out on Tebow and the Broncos and their magical season ends with a four game losing slump.
Tebow finished the game 7 for 11 for 151 yards, 1 TD and 1 INT. He also ran for 49 yards and a TD. Meanwhile, Big Ben got 14 of 16 for 168 yards while Redman took over for the injured Mendenhall and rumbled for 133 yards and 2 TDs. The big killer for Denver in this game, no running attack. The Steelers clamped down on the running game, allowing McGahee only 10 yards.