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Green Bay at Atlanta – NFL Playoff Recap

What’s next for the Falcons?

– Wrong gameplan for the Falcons. Since winning games late has become their trademark, they should’ve kept it close ’til the very end. Falling behind by a ton of points early is not in any of the contingency plans of head coach Mike Smith. He has only one gameplan; keep it close then execute the two-minute drill Matt Ryan and the Falcons’ offense practice every-damn-day.

– History was not on the side of Atlanta. It was only the second time they entered the playoffs as NFC’s top seed. The first time? They were also booted out.

ATLANTA, GA - JANUARY 15:  Aaron Rodgers #12 o...
Image by Getty Images via @daylife

– Atlanta’s suspect defense blew up in their faces against the Packers. All season they protected the ball with short passes and a reliable running game led by Michael Turner. They couldn’t keep Aaron Rodgers off the field. The match-up can be broken into a simple algebraic expression I learned in kindergarten; weak secondary + elite QB = a burned defense needing a ton of ice to stop the fire.

How’d the Packers do it?

– That’s simple and you’ve probably read about it on ESPN or Foxsports. Three words composed of two nouns and an adjective — Aaron freakin’ Rodgers. No need to go over the numbers. He is the hottest quarterback entering the four-team race for the Super Bowl.

– The Packers athletic front four was enough to pressure Ryan all game. They flushed him out the pocket and when he tried to run it Clay Matthews was breathing down his neck.

– James Starks’ numbers weren’t great but the big game he had against the Eagles was enough for Atlanta to bite on play actions. That’s street cred for you.

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The Ravens fly into Heinz Field in Pittsburgh

Baltimore at Pittsburgh- NFL Playoff Recap

What’s next for the Ravens?

Ben Roethlisberger

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– Baltimore’s defense needs to get younger. They were blown away in the second half. Ray Lewis, hope he doesn’t read this, needs to step aside. His time has come. Age has caught up. His instincts are still there. He still makes the right decisions. But like what Oscar De La Hoya said, “… when your physical doesn’t respond, what can you do? I have to be smart and make sure I think about my future plans.” Lewis’ physical doesn’t respond just as quick as when he was in his 20’s. He has a ring. He’s a first ballot Hall-of-Famer. There’s nothing else to prove. Ray, it’s time to walk away. You ain’t Bernard Hopkins. On your way out, drag Ed Reed with you too.

– With weapons like Joe Flacco, Anquan Boldin, T.J. Houshmandzadeh and Ray Rice it should be a crime against Baltimore fans that offensive coordinator Cam Cameron squeezed an embarrassing 126 total yards out of them. We know how tough Pittsburgh’s D is but this is the playoffs. Raise your game.

– The Ravens coughed the ball up three times — including a rare fumble by Ray Rice, who blamed a stomach virus for his poor performance against the Steelers. Really? I didn’t know stomach virus is the new nickname for linebacker James Harrison.

How’d the Steelers do it?

– With the Steelers playing from behind in the second half you’d think that the Ravens would’ve predicted Pittsburgh to come out throwing the ball a lot in the second half. Unfortunately, no one told Baltimore that. Ben Roethlisberger burned them for two touchdowns in the second half even though he was sacked six times. Didn’t matter because that’s how Big Ben likes it. He likes receiving blows (if you know what I mean) and picking himself up from the field. Then he throws a touchdown when you think you’ve clocked him hard. That’s the style he plays. He’s a winner.

– Pittsburgh’s defense tightened up when it mattered most. Ray Rice had his face on milk boxes in the second half.

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