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It could be a team-of-destiny moment

Posted Jan 15, 2018

The overlooked play was on third-and-1


Tom from Holmen, WI

Are you kidding me?

Are you buying into my crapshoot theory yet?

Steven from St. Cloud, MN

Being a lifelong Packers fan I've witnessed our own playoff dreams come crashing down on routine plays. Yet I still can't imagine how the Saints fans are feeling right now. One sound tackle away from winning the game. And that, my friends, is why you don't lead with your head. See your target and wrap him up. That being said, is Minnesota the team to beat at this point? Defense wins championships.

The play reminds me of the Jacoby Jones 70-yard TD for Baltimore that safety Rahim Moore botched for Denver in the 2012 AFC Divisional playoff, which felt like it made the Ravens a team of destiny. This could be one of those, too.

Brad from Denver, CO

So after the dust settles from the divisional weekend who feels worse: Rahim Moore, Brandon Bostick or Marcus Williams? A good season/career will almost certainly be remembered by one play.

It’s always worse when it happens in the championship game.

Sam from Janesville, WI

As a Packers fan I was obviously pulling for the Saints the whole time, but as a football fan can you ask for anything better than those final two minutes?

For the second year in a row, the finale of divisional weekend was an all-timer.

Jerome from Midland, MI

If you had to vote or pick best miracle play in the playoffs, immaculate reception (Steelers vs. Raiders), or miraculous reception (New Orleans vs. Minnesota).

Heck, I don’t know how to rank them. I do think the crazy play everyone is forgetting about is the deflected pass at the end of the first half of Falcons-Eagles that should have been picked off by Atlanta but was caught by Philly, giving the Eagles three points right before intermission. I don’t think the Eagles win without that play.

Hans from Manassas, VA

With less than a minute, no timeouts and down by 10, I thought the Steelers’ only chance was to kick a field goal right then and try for an onside recovery to give themselves a shot. Were you surprised by their play-calling there?

After the intentional grounding and 10-second runoff, I was thinking field goal/onside/Hail Mary would be their best chance.

Brandon from Orlando, FL

I would like to add a third unfortunate benefit of not making the playoffs to Wes's list. We don't have to go through all the heartbreak. Being a Falcons or Steelers fan would have been hard enough for me; I don't know what I would do if I were a Saints fan. Wow!

I’d still rather have a shot and deal with the aftermath, but it does in many ways make for a longer offseason.

Justin from Los Angeles, CA

Three of the four remaining quarterbacks are Nick Foles, Blake Bortles, and Case Keenum. Is "The Man" theory taking a hit here, or is this year an outlier fueled by great defensive play?

I guess we’ll find out next year, but for now I’m calling it an outlier, because you have to go all the way back to Super Bowl XXXV to find the Dilfer-Collins matchup. Two years later Brad Johnson won a Super Bowl, and a few years after that, Rex Grossman piloted another team to the big game. But outside of those, Super Bowls this century have been about elite quarterbacks with varying strengths in their supporting casts. I’ll also add that not much about Jaguars-Steelers or the fourth quarter of Saints-Vikings was about defense, except Minnesota’s third-and-1 stop that allowed them to get the ball back. That’s the overlooked play, because the Saints drain the clock down to a walk-off field goal if they convert there.

Matt from Eau Claire, WI

I think if there's anything to be learned from the Vikings-Saints game it’s how important fundamentals are at every level. The safety chose to go low instead of wrapping up to ensure the tackle (or at least slowing the receiver down enough to allow somebody to catch him) and they lose a game that is basically in the bag.

Fans never like to hear coaches talk about fundamentals, but they can escape even the pros at the worst times. It appeared to me Williams’ timing was off, and he got nervous he was going to hit Diggs early, so he decided to avoid the hit rather than follow through anyway and take his chances.

Bryce from Billings, MT

That was probably the worst missed tackle I have ever witnessed.

Now the question is what the Vikings will do with it. A huge break has given them a historic opportunity.

Gary from Davenport, IA

Was that payback for Bountygate?

Interesting thought. The football gods have their ways.

Tom from Western Springs, IL

Wow, it wasn’t even the Packers’ defense crumbling at the end of the game. When the Saints blocked the punt, would it have been roughing the punter if Hill, the backup quarterback who got away, would have made contact with the punter even though another player blocked the ball?

I’ve never seen roughing the punter called when the punt-rush team makes contact with the ball.

Olle from Kallunga, Sweden

Hi guys, a rule question. Philly muffed a punt by touching it as it landed, Atlanta recovered. Later on, Atlanta punted again and Philly stayed away from the landing zone. Atlanta touched it dead and Philly got the ball. However, a flag was thrown for roughing the punter. After review the flag was negated since the player roughing the punter deflected the ball. Doesn’t that mean that Atlanta picked up a live ball, and should have kept it?

It’s only live if the receiving team touches the ball beyond the line of scrimmage, or if the ball after the block/deflection stays behind the line of scrimmage. If the punting team recovers behind the line of scrimmage, it must still get the first down to keep the ball.

Leandro from Lexington, KY

Turns out Fournette did take the elevator.

Indeed. He’s this year’s Zeke Elliott – the rare difference-maker from Day 1 – except his team got (at least) one step farther.

Johnathan from Franklin, WI

Dan from Grand Rapids, MI, makes a good point. The flipside is, don't any additional games and practice time give playoff teams an advantage under the CBA to continue development of younger players?

Sure, and playoff experience for younger players is invaluable, too. Tradeoffs abound. If anyone knew the exact formula for optimal advantage, it’d be patented by now.

Tom from Cedar Rapids, IA

After watching games this weekend, not only am I unsure what constitutes a catch, I'm not sure what pass interference is anymore. The game has simply become way too skewed toward offense.

It seems awfully easy for receivers to bait the officials into throwing flags. The dive by Diggs early in the Saints-Vikings game made me a little ill.

Tim from Sun Prairie, WI

I'm sure you won't speculate on Nelson and Cobb's contract situation. But I think obtaining a young WR who legitimately stretches the field has to be a priority.

I would agree. Rodgers needs his next Nelson to pair with Adams for the long term.

Rishit from Clarington, Ontario

A lot of people have been saying the Packers should release Clay Matthews or restructure his contract. Do you agree with these statements or do you think we should let him play out the final year of his contract?

I’ve said I expect Matthews to be in Green Bay in 2018. I think his future beyond that depends at least somewhat on the vision of the new defensive coordinator.

Mitch from Silvis, IL

If a team drafts more than one player in the first round, are they able to exercise the fifth-year option for all first-round draftees?

Yes, as long as they’re cap-compliant.

John from Flanders, NJ

If the Vikings make the Super Bowl and the NFC is the away team, do they have to take the visitors’ locker room?

I have heard no.

Cindy from Oshkosh, WI

If the Vikings get to the Super Bowl in their home stadium, do you think we could petition the NFL to ban that stupid horn?

I could see Minneapolis street merchants selling mini-versions of the horn on the street so the fans could carry on. It’d be like the vuvuzelas at the World Cup, only more annoying.

Willie from Hayward, WI

Do you think that Steelers fans are complaining how their team is just satisfied to get to the playoffs and not looking to win Super Bowls?

They were the most complete team in the league, in my opinion, but unfortunately their season will be remembered for the Shazier injury, not only for the personal tragedy, but his absence was obvious on a 45-point day for what had been a top defense.

Amara from Coon Rapids, MN

Free agency just took the Jaguars to the AFC Championship Game. Imagine what it could do for a team like the Packers.

That’s a prevailing sentiment in the Inbox this morning, but let’s be real here. It also helps to have eight players in significant roles taken in the top 40 of the last four drafts – Leonard Fournette (4), Cam Robinson (34), Jalen Ramsey (5), Myles Jack (36), Dante Fowler (3), T.J. Yeldon (36), Blake Bortles (3) and Marqise Lee (39). The Jaguars have been building toward this, they made the free-agency splash to push a little harder, and their young QB made some clutch throws on a big stage.

Donovan from Moore, SC

Both the Packers’ new defensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach have Pennsylvania roots, as does Head Coach Mike McCarthy. How many other coaches throughout the league hail from PA and why does the Keystone State produce so many successful football coaches?

I couldn’t begin to find the total number, but the state for a long, long time has been a high school football hotbed. It starts there.

Rob from Buckinghamshire, UK

I saw the Lions still haven't named their new head coach. Can we now assume this is because they're currently coaching playoff teams? Or are they just taking a long time to make a decision?

It would appear to be the former.

Henry from Jackson, WY

I am really happy for Edgar Bennett. A new coaching opportunity with a new team. Always loved him as a player and a coach with the Pack!

I’ll miss EB. A Packer person through and through, and his entire professional career has reflected that.

Alex from Denver, CO

Yes, we have Aaron Rodgers, but after watching the games this weekend it's very apparent there's a huge talent gap between our defense and remaining teams. I don't think we need a top-five defense to get back to the Super Bowl, but they need to get substantially better. Can the draft and free agency change things in one year?

With continued development of young players, the number of picks in the draft, and a different approach to free agency, yes. It turned around quickly in 2009 when there was a clear draft commitment to what the new defensive coordinator needed.

Cheryl from Marathon, WI

Hey guys, as a loyal Packer fan and lover of football in general, one of the things on my bucket list is to see a game in every NFL stadium. What three stadiums would top your list, and for what reason? Keep up the great work!

I’m only going to choose outdoor venues, and aside from Lambeau Field, my favorite stadiums for aesthetics and atmosphere would be CenturyLink in Seattle, Heinz in Pittsburgh, and a close call between Arrowhead in Kansas City and Lincoln Financial in Philly.

Ken from Wolcott, CT

Why are kickers kicking on the left or right side of the markers on PATs? I’ve seen it happen a few times this year that the kicker hit the post on that side. Why not kick it right down the middle?

Every kicker has his preference and comfort zone. Sometimes the wind can factor.

Lowell from Tuscola, IL

Just an off-hand question...on that last Falcons pass to Jones, he stepped out of bounds before re-establishing for his jump. If he had caught it, would it have been a legal reception?

Not if he’s the first player to touch the ball after stepping out of bounds.

Chris from Wyoming, OH

Guys, with the amount of ridiculous and/or ignorant questions and comments you include in the published final product every day, I can only imagine the content of the ones you don't publish. How do you keep your sanity amongst the insanity?

You’re assuming we do?

Josh from Oshkosh, WI

So who are you taking to win the championship games?

Well, I was wrong on three out of four this past weekend, so my game predictions clearly aren’t worth much. But I think it’ll be the Patriots and Vikings, though I’ll be rooting for the opposite on both counts.


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