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And Then There Were Two — Thoughts on the 2009 NFL Playoffs

Posted by RichieZ23 on February 1, 2010

And Then There Were Two — Thoughts on the 2009 NFL Playoffs

32 teams started training camp with one common goal in early September — getting to, and winning Super Bowl XLIV.  Now, only two teams, the Indianapolis Colts and New Orleans Saints have a chance to make their dream a reality in Miami on Feb. 7.

But how did we get to the Super Bowl?

While 32 teams all aspire to be playing in Miami, only six teams per conference make the playoffs and get a shot to battle for the Lombardi Trophy.

The playoffs kicked off as the Cincinnati Bengals hosted the New York Jets.  Cincinnati came into the playoffs mourning the tragic death of receiver Chris Henry, and riding an emotional rollercoaster of a season as they also suddenly lost the wife of defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer earlier in the season.

Football is an emotional game, but I cannot imagine how hard it is for athletes to come out and perform in a football game that has just been put into the larger perspective.  A few seasons ago it was Sean Taylor with Washington who passed away, now it’s Chris Henry with Cincinnati.  Both were absolutely tragic, and then you add in the fact that your defensive coordinator suddenly lost his wife?

Talk about going through adversity.

The New York Jets came in with the worst record of all playoff teams at 9-7, although they had destroyed the Bengals the week prior, 37-0.  New York was led by rookie head coach Rex Ryan, and rookie quarterback Mark Sanchez.  Since the current playoff format since 1990, Ryan and Sanchez were only the third rookie head coach-quarterback combination to reach the playoffs.  However Ryan has been routinely putting together dominating defenses, coming over from Baltimore after fielding top defensive units for ten straight years.

You have to love Ryan.  The guy knows his stuff, has a cocky, yet confident swagger about him, and has a kick ass-take names philosophy regarding football.  Rex Ryan and Shonn Greene have turned me from having zero interest in the Jets, to having a ton of interest in the Jets.  I can even say that I’ll be rooting for them next year.

Not to mention Shonn went from I-O-W-A to J-E-T-S,  JETS JETS JETS!

Those two are the best stadium chants in football.

While the playoff score was not as lopsided as the week prior, the result was the same, as New York took home the victory 24-14.  The Jets defense came out ready to do work, and besides the first two possessions when New York allowed Cincinnati to score on the second drive, they never allowed Bengals quarterback Carson Palmer to get in rhythm.  It didn’t help matters that Laveranues Coles fumbled deep in Jets territory just one minute into the game taking potential Bengals points off the board.

Darrel Revis again proved why he’s the best corner in the league.  Chad Ocho Cinco stepped foot on “Revis Island” and ended up with two catches for 28 yards, while also letting Revis out-battle him on a poorly thrown ball by Palmer that resulted in a Revis interception.

Ocho Cinco is not the receiver he used to be (his diet regimen of McDonalds during training camp will certainly not help him as he gets into his thirties) and his lack of physicality downfield is disturbing, but he remains a threat in the league, and Revis treated him as if he was a scrub.

Revis gets away with a lot of physical contact, but you can’t play professional football as a pacifist.  He’s physical, he makes plays, and he’s the best corner in the game.  He did it in college at Pitt, and he’s doing in the league in New York.

While the Jets defense was busy jettisoning the Bengals offense off the field, the real story of the game was the emergence of Shonn Greene as the Jets main horse.  He stepped into the Jets record book, recording the longest touchdown run in Jets playoff history, as he scampered for six points on a 39-yard run to tie the game early in the second quarter.

Remind anyone of this?  Both were misdirection plays, and both times Shonn just out-runs everyone to the end zone.  That nasty spin he put on the Purdue defender would have been nice to see against Cincinnati, but I’ll still take it.

There is no denying the fact that Shonn Greene is the lead back for perhaps the most run-oriented team in the National Football League.  Greene rushed for 135 yards on just 21 carries and scored a touchdown in his first career playoff game, unseating Thomas Jones as the guy for New York in the process.  The best part is he was is just getting started…

To all you Hawkeyes, how sweet is that?  Seriously.  Not only did he just put up the best rushing season in Iowa history, he’s now a top back in the NFL.

It’s great to be a Hawkeye.

While the Jets did allow Cedric Benson to rush for 169 yards and a touchdown, they often held strong once the Bengals got near the red zone and forced Cincinnati to kick field goals.  Fortunately for New York, Bengals kicker Shayne Graham missed two short field goals in the game, with those six points being crucial in the ten point loss.  Even had he just made the first attempt, it would have been a seven point game with just under four minutes remaining, and the Bengals would have had a 4th and 10 from the Jets 11-yard line.

You never know what can happen on 4th down.

That was not the case though, as he indeed missed both kicks, and the Jets went on to win by ten, 24-14.

Is it that hard to kick field goals in the NFL now?

Seriously.  Kicking has seen better days than the 2009 season.

Nonetheless an emotional run came to an end for Cincinnati, and an emotional run was hardly beginning in New York.

How about you…Who were you rooting for this game?  What did you think of the game?


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