Tuesday, January 17, 2012

All Hail The Football High Powers

Woe be unto thee that disobeyeth the football gods. After a year of historical exploits and off-the-chart statistics, high-powered NFL offenses were threatening to change the game and reduce it's foundation and core values to rubble. But just when football purists thought all hope was lost, from out of the smoke and ashes arose a familiar conquering sight: smashmouth football. Over this past weekend in the NFL divisional round, smashmouth stood up and boldly declared: I am still here, and I'm not going anywhere anytime soon.

The weekend began with smashmouth pounding a New Orleans Saints RB (P. Thomas) out of the game, starting a contant stream of turnovers that put the Saints behind early. And though they eventually overcame the early deficit with their high-powered GQ glamour offense, it was their defense that failed to hold onto a fourth-quarter lead given to them -- twice. Then, in the weekend's final game, button-downed glamour football tried to make one last desperate stand against smashmouth, when the Green Bay Packers cut their deficit to the New York Giants down to 2 TDs halfway thru the fourth quarter. This gave the Pack some measure of hope that their own high-caliber pretty-boy offense would ride thru on a white horse to rescue the day. But, as with the Saints, their defensive deficiencies betrayed them, as the Giants -- armed with smashmouth running -- immediately marched right back down an onside-kick-shortened field and restored an insurmountable 3-TD lead. Both Green Bay and New Orleans were held in check by stingy opponents' defenses -- as well as their own costly mistakes -- and ultimately done in by the porousness of their own defenses. In between, the New England Patriots showed that maybe, just maybe, their reorganized defense can actually perform (statistically-speaking, their defense kept the Packers' company at the very bottom of the NFL rankings), and the Baltimore Ravens just went about their ho hum workmen smashmouth day, giving up exactly zero points in the 2nd half of their game.

What's somewhat strangely ironic in all this is that the San Francisco 49ers, the one team built more on smashmouth football than any left in the playoffs, were almost betrayed by their usually-stout defense (missing tackles, making judgment errors, and giving up 2 late TD drives) and had to be rescued by glittery offensive plays. I suppose the gods were subtly whispering to us: balance, it's all about balance.

So, the result of all this is that three smashmouth teams -- and a team who performed like one -- are all that remain in this year's playoff field. Those luxurious high-powered offense-driven teams? They will be parked in the garage at home watching with the rest of us.

We've heard it innumerable times: offense wins games, defense wins championships.

Betrayeth ye not the football gods, or suffer the wrath of agonizing playoff elimination. Purists rejoice!

No comments: