AFC-NFC Title Tilts Set; Replay Will Confirm It
Championship weekend is set in the National Football League.
Four teams will be there, of course. And so will the replay officials.
In the NFC, the two top seeds -- Seattle and Green Bay -- will battle for a trip to the Super Bowl while in the AFC, New England will host Indianapolis. Each will no doubt order a front office geek to memorize the rulebook's fine print because ... well ... because that's what the Commish's Shield has become.
The Seahawks advanced to the championship game with a 31-17 victory over Carolina, and with a win over the Packers, will have a chance to defend their title. Russell Wilson threw for three touchdowns and 268 yards for Seattle, who after a 6-4 start has now won seven in a row. Doug Baldwin, Jermaine Kearse, and Luke Wilson were on the receiving end of Wilson's touchdown passes, but the star of the show was Kam Chancellor.
Yes, he clinched the game with a 90-yard pick-six off Cam Newton late in the fourh quarter. But the lasting images will be his doing an Edwin Moses over the Panther center on his way to the field goal kicker:
How he missed the kick on Leap 1 makes you realize how pucks get past goalies. The only way he missed on Leap 2 was Graham Gano was probably too shaken to keep his eye on the ball. He shanked it worse than a 36-handicap duffer.
It's possible snap counts on kicks are due for a serious upgrade in sophistication.
Aaron Rodgers had a banner day after a slow start, throwing for 316 yards and three touchdowns. The Cowboys led 21-13 late in the third quater before Rodgers connected with Davante Adams and RIchard Rodgers for touchdowns and a lead in the fourth quarter. The Cowboys fought back -- led by Tony Romo and DeMarco Murray -- and were in striking distance to take the lead when Romo hit Dez Bryant with a beautiful fouth down completion. Or so it seemed.
Green Bay and Seattle met in the first week of the season, when the Seahawks won easily 36-16.
The game is in Seattle again, the Seahawks are violent again, and this time could be even tougher for the Pack, especially if Rodgers is as gimpy as he was on Sunday.
Tom Brady and the Patriots advanced to their fourth straight AFC championship game with a classic victory over Baltimore, 35-31. Brady threw for 367 yards and three touchdowns as New England came back from two 14-point deficits. Joe Flacco had a great game in defeat, throwing for four touchdowns, but Brady, Julian Edelman, Rob Gronkowski, and Danny Amendola were too much.
Especially with their delving deep into the rule book for the ol' receiver ineligible play and then this lateral-pass combo:
Indianapolis pulled the upset of the weekend when they knocked off Peyton Manning and the Broncos, 24-13.
Andrew Luck has advanced one round further each year he's been in the league. After throwing for two touchowns Sunday, Oliver Luck's pride and joy has advanced to his first conference championship game. Tom Brady, on the other hand, will be playing in his ninth. Hakeem Nicks, Daniel Herron, and Dwayne Allen scored for the Colts who are hoping to get to the Super Bowl for the first time since Manning left.
The Pats and Colts also played this season in November and New England dominated the game, 42-20. Jonas Gray ran all over the Colts that night, but he was not even active in the Pats win over Baltimore.
If the Colts are to have a chance, they must stop the run this time around, because Sneaky Bill Belichik will probably want to see if they've adjusted yet. If so, maybe he's found another cool rule to help the Patriots make the Super Bowl again.