NFL Playoffs Sorts Contenders from Pretenders

Game winning field goal boots Titans into off-season.

By Bryan Mongeau-Eastmond

NEW YORK (RushPRNews /Hollywood Today) 01/11/09-Respect went out the window when these two teams meet in an AFC divisional playoff game in Tennessee on Saturday. The Baltimore Ravens didn’t care much for their opponents and they did just enough to win Saturday’s game 13-10 and advance in the AFC title game next week.  Led by Joe Flacco, the first rookie quarterback to win two playoff games, the Ravens are one win away from earning a trip in the Super Bowl.DicksSportingGoods.com

This is a bitter loss for the Titans, a team that started the season a perfect 10-0. But they learned the valuable lesson (same as the New England Patriots did last season) that what you do in the regular season has little impact during the playoffs. Everybody starts with a clean slate.

The Titans got off to a fast start and took an early lead thanks to an 8-yard run by rookie Chris Johnson, capping a 65-yard drive. Johnson, took full advantage of his team’s first round bye to rest, and looked unstoppable. The Ravens on the other hand, had a short week and the defense appeared depleted. Johnson or “Dash,” as he is referred to around the league, showed signs of brilliance and it trickled down onto his team.

Tennessee’s quarterback, Kerry Collins, had excellent pass protection which allowed him to find his favorite receiver on the day, Justin Gage. But Tennessee did not take advantage of key opportunities and ball security was the difference maker in this one. Collins, LenDale White and Alge Crumpler, all turned the ball over in the redzone, ultimately taking points off the scoreboard.

Baltimore got the game closer, after Derrick Mason caught a 48-yard pass from Joe Flacco. The score was tied 7-7 at the end of the first quarter. Mason, 34, showed he can still make big plays and finished with 5 catches for 78 yards.

Baltimore continued its aggressive play calling, throwing the ball deep down the field hoping to connect with one of their receivers. As faith would have it, it worked and Flacco connected on a 37-yards strike to Mark Clayton to set up a 21-yard field goal early in the fourth quarter for a 10-7 lead. Rob Bironas kicked a 27-yard field goal with 4:23 left to tie it at 10.

Matt Stover got the last kick out of things, nailing a 43-yard game wining field goal with 57 seconds remaining. Although the Titans dominated in practically every statistical category, they came up short on the scoreboard.

Cardinals 33, Panthers 13
Arizona riding momentum wave

It would appear that the Arizona Cardinals are peeking at the right time. With an impressive victory over the heavy favorite Carolina Panthers, the Cardinals have secured themselves a place in the NFC Championship game. What is more notable about this feat is the fact that the Cards dominated without the services from their star receiver, Anquan Boldin, inactive due to a hamstring injury.

Carolina jumped to an early 7-o lead, following a 9-yard scamper from Jonathan Stewart. Arizona did a good job, not getting overwhelmed and came back with 14 unanswered points to give them a lead they would never relinquish.

Panthers’ quarterback, Jake Delhomme was hoping to celebrate his birthday with a win, but his five interceptions and one lost fumble prevented that from happening.

The action continues Sunday.  Look for our update, right here at RushPRnews.

Photo courtesy of the National Football League. Ray Lewis, for the Baltimore Ravens
Sun., Jan. 11, 4:45 p.m.
San Diego (8-8, 1-0)
at Pittsburgh (12-4)

Sun., Jan. 11, 1 p.m.
Philadelphia (9-6-1, 1-0)
at N.Y. Giants (12-4)