AFC, NFC Championship Games Sunday Sans Cowboys
It looks as if it will be at least 12 years between Dallas Cowboys’ playoff victories as they watched the New York Giants rally from a 14-7 second period deficit to edge past the Pokes 21-17 in an NFC Division playoff game Sunday at Texas Stadium.
The old adage of not being able to beat a football team three times in the same season came back to haunt the Cowboys for the second straight time in franchise history and once again ended the Cowboys’ Super Bowl dreams after the first playoff game.
Dallas became the first No. 1-seeded team in the NFC to lose in this round since the NFL went to the 12-team playoff format in 1990. The Cowboys also became the seventh team to lose a playoff game against a team they’d beaten twice in the regular season.
The scoreboard appeared to be the only place where the Cowboys came up short. They had 105 more total yards than New York, seven more first downs, 64 more rushing yards, 42 more passing yards and kept the football for 36:30 compared to the Giants’ 23:30.
So now instead of Green Bay risking its 0-9 record against the Cowboys in Texas Stadium, the Packers will have the distinct advantage of hosting the fifth-seeded Giants at frozen Lambeau Field Sunday in the NFC championship game.
As for our Dallas Cowboys, it’s another verse of “wait ‘til next year” after matching their best season in franchise history at 13-3, but ending in disappointment once again.
But Ol’ Mo was on the Giants side as they battled undefeated New England on even terms two weeks ago for most of the game before succumbing 38-35. And last week they rallied past favored Tampa Bay in the second half and upset the Buccaneers 24-14, setting the stage for the East Division showdown in Dallas.
The Cowboys, on the other hand, had trouble scoring points in their final three games and lost the momentum they had accrued in winning 11 of their first 12 regular-season games. It probably had something to do with clinching a playoff spot way too early in the season.
This Korner got burned on our playoff predictions last weekend, claiming that either of the NFC bye teams could suffer an upset, but picking Green Bay as the team to fall. Actually the Packers enjoyed the weekend’s biggest blowout victory, crushing a good Seattle team, 42-20.
There was another upset Sunday as the defending World Champion Indianapolis Colts got ambushed by San Diego 28-24 in the RCA Dome. The Chargers picked off Peyton Manning twice and still managed to have a potent offense despite losing both star running back LaDainian Tomlinson and quarterback Phillip Rivers with knee injuries.
Saturday night’s game in Foxboro went pretty much as predicted with the Patriots staying undefeated by eliminating a solid Jacksonville team, 31-20.
Quarterback Tom Brady showed why he was voted the NFL’s Most Valuable Player by completing an NFL playoff-record 26-of-28 passes for 262 yards and three touchdowns.
New England’s 17-0 record guaranteed the Patriots of hosting the AFC championship game against San Diego Sunday and also matched the 1972 Miami Dolphins, the only NFL team to go undefeated from the first game of the regular season through the Super Bowl.
Oddly enough, all four of last weekend’s divisional winners fell behind in the first half. Green Bay running back Ryan Grant fumbled twice that led to two easy Seattle touchdowns and the Seahawks led 14-0 with only four minutes gone in the first period.
Jacksonville and New England swapped a pair of first half touchdowns and went into the dressing room at the intermission tied at 14-14. Indian-apolis led San Diego for most of the first half before faltering late in the third quarter.
And our Dallas Cowboys looked like world champions in the first half as they dominated the time of possession and methodically worked the ball downfield for a pair of first half touchdowns. The Pokes drove the football 90 yards in a record-setting 20 plays eating up 10:20 to score and go ahead 14-7.
The Giants grabbed big chunks of yardage and scored both of their touchdowns quickly, as the half ended tied at 14-14. But the second half was an entirely different story as the Giants defense pressured Dallas quarterback Tony Romo into making some poor passes and stopped the Cowboys’ offense cold.
New York scored its only touchdown in the fourth period while the Pokes could manage only a field goal. Dallas had a chance to pull the game out in the final minute, but Romo couldn’t connect with his receivers and was picked off in the end zone to seal their doom.
Once again the home teams are favored in this week’s conference championship games, but this Korner is not sure seven-point-favored Green Bay can fend off the pesky Giants’ defense. Quarterback Brett Favre had better be wearing his track shoes because New York will be pressuring him the entire game, which kicks off Sunday at 5:30 p.m.
And if San Diego continues to find new ways to win, the 141/2-point- underdog Chargers could give New England all it can handle and avenge the 33-14 whipping the Patriots gave them in Week 2. This AFC championship game is set to kick off at 2 p.m. Sunday.
This Korner looks for Brett Favre to out-duel Eli Manning 27-24 while New England runs its record to 18-0 by nudging San Diego 31-24.
KWICKIES…Sunset Grove golfer Rick Keszeg garnered a check for $100 from the Men’s Golf Association for his recent hole-in-one on the 260-yard par-4 No. 17 hole. Keszeg used a three-wood to become only the second golfer in the course’s history to record an ace on that par-4 hole. Curt Leger, Patrick Toomey and Keith Grissom witnessed the shot.
Joining Port Arthur native Jamaal Charles of Texas as underclassmen running backs declaring for the April 25-27 NFL draft are Arkansas’ Darren McFadden, Oregon’s Jonathan Stewart, Illinois’ Rashard Mendenhall, Central Florida’s Kevin Smith, Rutgers’ Ray Rice and Clemson’s James Davis. The deadline for declaring is today (Tuesday).
Congrats to former Bridge City baseball coach Chuck Young for being inducted into the Texas High School Baseball Coaches Association’s Hall of Fame Friday night in Waco. Chuck played summer baseball with our Hubbard Electric team back in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s, the years he coached the Cardinals before moving on to Texas City where he is approaching 700 career victories.
Orange’s Scott Sterling finished 14 strokes behind PGA Tour Sony Open winner K.J. Choi last weekend in Honolulu. Sterling had rounds of 70-68-68-71—280 and collected a check for $15,518.
JUST BETWEEN US…Orange’s Marathon Man Kenny Ruane once again won the age 65-69 division of the 36th Chevron Houston Marathon Sunday bettering last year’s winning time by 20 seconds. Ruane toured the 26.2-mile course in 3 hours, 19 minutes and 26 seconds, 10 minutes ahead of the second-place finisher and 273rd out of the estimated 7,000 participants. “They say after age 65 your time should drop about two minutes a year,” Ruane said Sunday after returning to Orange from the Bayou City, “so I must be doing something right in my training for this marathon.”