Next Stop…Dallas

Somehow with a below average performance and a loss, Jay Cutler is still managing to steal headlines.  After suffering an injury to his knee late in the second quarter and exiting the game in the third, Chicago’s prized QB is being blasted by both analysts and players, past and present alike, for not being ‘tough enough’ to gut out the game.  It’s the Green Bay Packers though that deserve the attention.  I know the talk has been that the Jets may have been a team of destiny.  What about the cheese heads?  Lets not forget that it was the Pack who had to win their final two regular season games against the Giants and the Bears to earn the right to play in these playoffs.  To pile on to that, they went on the road in the first round to beat a tough Eagles team that some predicted would make noise in the post season.  Then going to Atlanta and beating arguably the toughest home field advantage in the league, only to hit the road again and beat Chicago for the second time this month!  Three straight playoff road victories to put them in the Super Bowl spells destiny to me.  Despite an overall sloppy game where Aaron Rodgers clearly didn’t play his best football, Green Bay found a way to win.  I wondered in the weekend preview whether the Bears passing defense would be able to contain Greg Jennings, and that question was answered with a definitive ‘No’ as he went for the most receptions he’s had all year (8) and tallied his 4th highest yard total (130).  One could make an argument that the best player for Chicago in the second half was third string QB Caleb Hanie.  Hanie stepped in for Todd Collins and marched the Bears down the field for a touchdown and actually had a chance to tie the score, but not before making a typical third string mistake and throwing the seed into the fat mitts of B.J. Raji, who then pleasured us by waddling into the end zone.  Apparently this dude calls himself ‘The Freezer’, a rebuttal to Chicago’s old William Perry, formally known as ‘the Fridge’.  By the looks of it, Raji makes a habit of emptying both refrigerators and freezers daily.  The guy is an oversized human meatball.  Raji went prime time before and after he scored, first holding the ball out showboating as he crossed the goal line (which almost backfired), then broke into a ‘harlem shake’ type dance, followed by signaling he had the championship belt around his waist.  I was a sponge for those 20 seconds just soaking it all in.  It was plays like Raji’s, as well as rookie Sam Shields’ (seen left) sack and two picks that can be looked back to as game changers.  In order of importance, finally, is Jay Cutler.  As far as people jumping him for not playing, I’m not sure if that’s fair.  Maybe he was truly ineffective and shouldn’t have been on the field.  Only he knows.  But I’ll tell you this: the guy doesn’t help his case when he looked, for the most part, disinterested on the sideline.  I’ve had a knee injury within the last year that required surgery and I can’t tell you that minutes after the injury occurred I’d be trying to ride the bike.  As the camera’s panned to the backup Hanie looking at the playbook trying to go over things, Cutler sat roughly two feet away, looking like an unhelpful zombie.  At least look like you give a damn whether your team goes to the freaking Super Bowl!  I understand his frustration, but it’s attributes like these that make it hard for me to like Jay Cutler. 

Talk about a tale of two halves in the Jets/Steelers game.  I’m not sure if anyone was expecting the Steelers to come out and just bully New York the way they did for the first 30 minutes.  Minus the New England 45-3 loss, the first half stretch Sunday may have been the worst for gang green all season.  Bad time to lay an egg (It’s nature).  The real cause for concern was not only getting out played as far as schemes and play calling, but the Jets simply couldn’t tackle.  Not usually an issue for a hard-nosed Rex Ryan team.  Blame it on the cold weather or just give the credit to Rashard Mendenhall’s legs that refused to stop moving.  Either way, Pittsburgh managed to lumber its way up and down the field the entire first half with little to no resistance, highlighted in the 66 yard opening drive that last nine minutes long.   But if you would have told me before the game that Ben Roethlisberger would have a passer rating of 35.5, Mark Sanchez would throw two TD’s with no interceptions, and we would go entire quarters without hearing Troy Polamalu’s name, I would have assumed those damn Jets did it again.  And much credit to New York for making a game out of the AFC championship.  Leave it to the Jets to come out of the locker room and hold Pittsburgh scoreless in the second half and make an offensive run of their own.  Too little too late though.  It’s worth mentioning that as bad as Sanchez can seem at times, there’s other moments, like that one legged, 45-yard bomb to Santanio Holmes, where he looks brilliant.  As much as I’ve dogged Rex Ryan and the Jets this season, I’ll admit that they have a certain likeability to them.  If you ask me, I’d say that the Super Bowl may have even been a more interesting place with the Jets (Certainly the two weeks leading up to it at the very least).  But interesting doesn’t cut it.  Instead we’ll talk about the same Steelers team for the next two weeks.  The same team that’s in the Super Bowl for the third time in six seasons.  The same Steelers squad that doesn’t rely on just one player, even Big Ben (I know you didn’t forget they went 3-1 to start the season without Roethlisberger).  Did the ‘Steel Curtain’ from the 1970’s  possess the Steelers Defense yesterday or was that just me? The Jets had a first and goal from roughly the 3-yard line and got stuffed time and again, like Snookie when she’s had too much to drink.   Another key play came on 3rd down and 6 yards to go in the 4th quarter with under two minutes to play.  If Pittsburgh doesn’t convert, the Jets get the ball back with a chance to win.  Ben scrambled right and made the clutch pass for the first down to run out the clock.  At that point Rex was peeling his headset off and smashing it.  Much like the NFC championship game, this one wasn’t always pretty.  But it’s football.  Just get it done.  Like it or not, if the Steelers win another one, they leave us no choice but to start mentioning them in the conversation of great teams we’ve seen in the last 25 years.  It’s a showdown in Dallas… “Can’t Wait!”

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3 Responses to Next Stop…Dallas

  1. bking says:

    ZACH! I’m commenting on this post to say I am beyond stoked to know that you have the ESPN gig. I just listened to the clips and am extremely impressed. Keep up the great work brother, I will certainly spread the word and can’t wait to hear more.

  2. Michael S says:

    What a weekend of games at the beginning of both I thought they would end up blowouts but they both ended up coming down the the final drives! To me the key to sucess for the steelres yesterday was the opening drive. the jets offense was on the sidelines for 30 real-time minutes before they took a snap!! in single digit temps! It took them out of their game, don’t believe me? Check this out for proof:

    Yea that’s sanchez picking his nose and wiping it on teammate on live television!!! hahahahahaha

    As far as cutler, i don’t think he faked it. this is a guy that doesnt give a damn about what anyone thinks, gives the worst interviews in nfl history is arrogant as hell and now suddenly he faked an injury? the guy who threw four picks to ONE cardinals corner earlier this year and later said he would keep going at him if he could, is now faking an injury? Doubt it. I do agree with the body language, though honestly if you look at him it just looks like cutler being himself. bored and uninterested.

  3. mike says:

    Wow byesline. You hit it on the head with cutler. Nobody really knows how bad his injury was. All of these tweets and comments by analysts and players ended up happening due to cutlers horrific body language. He is a victim of scrutiny because he doesn’t know how to carry himself whatsoever and this wasn’t just sunday, it’s been like this his whole career!

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