The Falcons and Patriots Have a Date Set on February 5th (Super Bowl LI)

Let’s face it: we all overrated the Green Bay Packers, especially after they narrowly defeated the Dallas Cowboys after blowing an 18-point lead. We saw Aaron Rodgers do Aaron Rodgers things, and we all ooh’ed and ahh’ed.

Well, I had the Falcons beating the Packers, but not the way they did it. Atlanta slapped Green Bay around so badly that they are forcing ’em to relocate to another city before the Raiders do. In all seriousness, Atlanta jumped out of the gates, Mason Crosby missed a field goal (which prompted one of my friends that’s a Cowboys fan to text me with an expected and very appropriate, “Oh now you fucking miss one, Mason Crosby”) and the Packers made mistakes. That Ripkowski (kickass last name) fullback the Packers had fumbled, and Atlanta hardly let their foot off the gas.

We should have saw this coming. Atlanta is so fast; the Packers were hobbled and hurt coming into the game. Let’s also face the fact that the Packers aren’t very good. Aaron Rodgers is the makeup to the Packers’ acne. I still believe that Matt Ryan is the unequivocal MVP of the NFL this year, given the fact that the Falcons’ 2016 campaign is the 8th ranked offense of all-time, but take Rodgers away from the Packers and they are the Cleveland Browns of the NFC North.

The Patriots dominated the Steelers from start to finish. I’ve said it for years about Mike Tomlin being the most overrated head coach in the league. I’m sure he’s a great person, and well, he’s also a good “rah-rah” coach, but he inherited the Steelers after they were built up by Bill Cowher, and he was lucky to win Super Bowl XLIII against the Cardinals (he better thank Roethlisberger and Santonio Holmes for a lifetime). He rode the coattails of the players Cowher brought in. Also, the fact that he has Roethlisberger — who’s probably the best quarterback in the AFC North outside of a temperamental Joe Flacco — and they’ve lost the division to the Cincinnati Bengals two of the last three years, underperforming with a high powered offense. From the Steel Curtain to the aluminum trash bag.

“So, Troy, you are saying that Tomlin is overrated just because he lost the AFC title game to the best organization in football?”

No, I’m saying he’s overrated because the Steelers have underperformed over the last five years with Tomlin. Besides, Tomlin is on the upper echelons of “coaches that Belichick consistently owns” list. Tomlin is a rah-rah guy, so the media loves him, but hey, just like Terry Bradshaw said, I reckon he’s more of a glorified cheerleader in a coach’s outfit rather than a head coach.

My early predictions for the Super Bowl? The Patriots will stifle the Falcons’ offense. The Falcons will score and get things going, but the Patriots will control the tempo of the game and not make mistakes like the Packers did. A lot of people refuse to believe in momentum in football, but think if the Packers would have hit that field goal to make the game 7-3 in the Falcons game, or if Ripkowski didn’t fumble. Momentum is absolutely real; these pro football players are still human. They have emotions and confidence issues at times. The script can be flipped and the tide can change.

I do hope the Falcons win, however. I heavily followed the Falcons when they drafted Michael Vick out of Virginia Tech in 2001. When they weren’t facing the Rams (or Dolphins), I rooted for them. One of my great friends/de facto brothers is a Falcons fan. Matt Ryan is the real deal; I watched him pick apart a menacing Virginia Tech defense when VT led Ryan’s Boston College Eagles 10-0 with a few minutes left in the game. Ryan tossed two touchdowns in 2 minutes and 11 seconds to stun the Hokies in Blacksburg. He’s the real deal. I can’t repeat that enough.

I’m hoping for a great game. The conference title games were stinkers!

The Most Frustrating NFL Wildcard Playoff Weekend Ever?

The last time I was able to actively participate — as a true fan of a team — in the playoffs was when the 2004 St. Louis Rams went 8-8 and beat the Seattle Seahawks in the wildcard round of the playoffs (the Rams went 3-0 against the ‘Squawks that year) before getting blown out by Michael Vick and the Atlanta Falcons 47-17. I vividly remember those days. Bulger to Kevin Curtis! Bulger to Shaun McDonald! Those were the days, man.

Ever since then, I usually spend the NFL playoffs playing a game of figuring out who I want to lose the most.

My favorite NFL playoff game in recent memory was when the 2007 New York Giants defeated the 18-0 Patriots in Super Bowl XLII. “But Troy! That was eight years ago!” What the hell? 2008 was eight years ago? Alright… a little more recent? I guess when the Packers beat the Steelers in Super Bowl XLV. “Troy! That was five years ago! How about the last three years?” Damn, I give up.

This past weekend was nucking futs.

I was genuinely excited for the Cincinnati Bengals on Saturday night. Despite the fans in the stadium being a horde of blowhards for booing Ben Roethlisberger’s injury as he was carted off the field, as a detractor of the Pittsburgh Steelers I was happy to witness a team acquire their first playoff win since 1990 under wraps. And… then Jeremy Hill fumbled away the football with a little over a minute left in the game, right before Vontaze Burfict and — surprisesurprise — Pacman Jones screwed their team’s season.

If that wasn’t all, the next day, the Minnesota Vikings held a 9-0 lead over the Seattle Seahawks. I was pumped up, thinking that the Vikes were going to send the ‘Squawks home! We wouldn’t have to see those northwest sumbitches in the big game again!

I stopped watching the game to prepare dinner — steak, potatoes and caramelized onions. Now, I love caramelized onions, but if you are making them properly on the stovetop, you cook ’em low and slow, 45 to 50 minutes, on medium low heat, so you end up having to hover around the stove to stir every few minutes.

In the time I was away from watching what was transpiring on the TV, the ‘Squawks managed to score a touchdown and hit a field goal to take the lead. At the end of the game, Vikings kicker Blair Walsh — who was responsible for all the points the Vikes scored on that day — missed a chip shot of a field goal.

That’s the kind of luck the ‘Squawks have been receiving since 2012, from the game winning interception to their miracle comeback in the 2015 NFC championship game. I mean, come on!

Every game — except the Chiefs/Texans (thanks, Brian Hoyer) — was extremely fun to watch this weekend, but two of them were incredibly frustrating.

Rashard Mendenhall is an Idiot and Twitter Sucks

For athletes, what’s the upside for them when using Twitter?

For Rashard Mendenhall, what’s the upside of publicly saying out loud that you think 9/11 was an inside job a day or so after the US Navy Seals captured America’s most hated terrorist Osama bin Laden?

I’m just looking for answers and nothing will whet my appetite for said answers.

I’m not exactly blaming Twitter, but Twitter hasn’t exactly been a positive resource for athletes since it became overwhelmingly popular in 2009.

Twitter is a powerful marketing tool for businesses, but it’s a dangerous media target for athletes who just want to reach out to fans and speak their minds. If you are an professional athlete, you have to seriously watch what you say or else your local media (as well as national media) will rip you a new anus.

Twitter — high risk; no reward.

Ben Roethlisberger: A Case of Overreaction

Before the Super Bowl, Ben Roethlisberger was being made out to be the second coming of the next messiah due to his leadership and toughness as well as the fact that he was 10-2 in the playoffs going into Super Bowl XLV.

Following a 31-25 loss that saw Big Ben toss two interceptions (one which was returned for a touchdown by Nick Collins), Roethlisberger is an afterthought, and according to a lot of Aaron Rodgers worshipers out he’s not even allowed to be spoken about in the same sentence.

The sports world sure is strange, huh? As NFL fans we witnessed a huge amount of MVP overreaction when Michael Vick went off against the paltry Washington Redskins. The overreaction turned into being a big bunch of bullshit.

You can apply the same terminology to the fact that Roethlisberger is being screwed by the blogosphere because of his performance in the Super Bowl!

Here’s an idea, sports fans: have some perspective. Instead of blaming Roethlisberger and the Pittsburgh Steelers for their lackluster performance in Super Bowl XLV, give credit and take your hats off to the Green Bay Packers’ defense and their ability to not only hit Roethlisberger but to screw up his arm and make him throw off unbalanced feet.

It was the Packers’ defense that forced Roethlisberger into playing a bad game, not Roethlisberger himself. Again, have some perspective, people.

Aaron Rodgers is the NFL’s World Heavyweight Champion

Aaron Rodgers accomplished something last night that Brett Favre never has and never will. Rodgers was named the Super Bowl MVP of Super Bowl XLV. In the Super Bowl Favre won (Super Bowl XXXI), Desmond Howard was named the MVP.

While Rodgers were nearly perfect in his first Super Bowl appearance, it was the Packers’ defense that anchored the team to victory. This morning on my favorite radio show ‘The Herd’, Colin Cowherd stated that he believes that defense no longer wins titles, that quarterbacks do, because the league is now purely a passing league. While Colin does have a basis to work on with what he said, you can’t tell me that the Packers’ defense didn’t win the team the Super Bowl. They forced Ben Roethlisberger into throwing two interceptions, and on the most crucial drive of the game — the Steelers’ last stand — he was being rushed to throw and he couldn’t get his feet set for a solid pass. The Steelers finished the game with three turnovers. So, Colin, you don’t think a defense won the championship last night?

Let’s get back to Rodgers. He played an off-the-charts Super Bowl. We all knew the Steelers’ defensive backs would be reeling, especially because Rodgers is so in sync with a receiving corps that is possibly the best in the league. Greg Jennings and Jordy Nelson caught a combined three touchdown catches. Hell, Jordy Nelson caught nine passes, and he should have caught more if it weren’t for a myriad of dropped balls by he and one by James Jones (which realllllllly stood out).

Rodgers’ aim wasn’t to erase Brett Favre from the minds of Green Bay fans. His aim was the same as the rest of the team’s: to win the championship. He and his teammates accomplished that goal last night. Don’t let me forget to also give credit to the job Green Bay’s offensive line did. Those five guys were awesome last night.

Good teams (and great teams) finish. The Packers’ defense started well and finished well. Pittsburgh began to pick up the pace in the middle of the game, but the deficit was in place and at times they were stagnant and confused. Because of the pressure the Packers brought, Roethlisberger began to experience a few bumps. He limped and had trouble accurately delivering passes. I was surprised how much of a non-factor Heath Miller was!

Rodgers, along with winning the Super Bowl MVP, won the World Heavyweight Championship last night. It was the NFL’s Wrestlemania and he took down the mean Pittsburgh Steelers [whom I’d like to reference to as the NFL’s “Triple H”, the cerebral assassin(s)].

Congratulations Packers and Packers fans. What a victory!

A Summary of Ben Roethlisberger’s Career

Using ridiculously idiotic internet lingo to succinctly describe Ben Roethlisberger’s career thus far:

— brb being drafted to the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2004.
— brb losing the first game of the season, winning 17 in a row, then losing to the Patriots in the AFC championship game.
— brb nearly choking away the 2005 season before watching my teammate kill Carson Palmer’s career, watching Mike Vanderjagt choke, herpin’ and derpin’ the Broncos and contriving with the referees to beat the Seahawks in Super Bowl XL.
— brb getting in a motorcycle wreck because of my lack of sense to wear a helmet.
— brb having a subpar season because my mind still can’t handle the effects of an NFL game.
— brb having my best season, so far, and fucking it all up against Jacksonville in the playoffs.
— brb having a solid season and winning the championship against the Arizona Cardinals in Super Bowl XLIII.
— brb banging this broad hard in Lake Tahoe.
— brb missing the playoffs because the Super Bowl slump is inevitable sometimes.
— brb banging a 20-year-old college chick and getting a little too rough with her.
— brb watching my teammate get traded to the New York Jets. Brought the lulz.
— brb having the second best record in the AFC.
— brb going to Super Bowl XLV while the Patriots and former teammate Santonio Holmes aren’t. Feeling the lulz.
— brb preparing to play the Packers.

Super Bowl XLIII Reveries

I wrote this on the day of the Super Bowl, but never posted it on TSTOS. . . until now.

The football season officially culminates this evening, with Super Bowl XLIII wrapping up a year full of bullshit (or, uh, excitement). And after next weekend’s Pro Bowl, there’s the scouting combine to look forward to as fresh out of college prospects have their attributes tested and observed by NFL scouts. I’m not reading much into it — I know the Rams are going to pick up either Andre Smith, Eugene Monroe, or Michael Oher.

On Friday morning, I got rid of my beard by trimming my facial hair merely down to a little bit of stubble. Why is this? As a homage to my all-time favorite quarterback, Kurt Warner. Hopefully Warner and the Arizona Cardinals will present a litany of aerial liabilities for the Pittsburgh Steelers’ defense, by spreading the field and allowing Warner to sit in the pocket and throw strikes to Larry Fitzgerald, Anquan Boldin, and Steve Breaston. If the running game of the Cardinals is able to at least pick up four yards per carry, the Cards have a realistic shot.

As NFL Network analyst Terrell Davis put it: the Cardinals apparently played two pre-seasons — the actual pre-season itself and the regular season. After playing atrociously on defense during the regular season, they beat up on the Atlanta Falcons’ young offense in the wildcard round, stifled the Carolina Panthers in the hostile Bank of America stadium in the divisional round, and out-passed and out-thought the Philadelphia Eagles in the NFC Championship game. And that’s why the Cards are in the Super Bowl.

You know the story of the Pittsburgh Steelers. While Ben Roethlisberger’s stats are nothing to fawn over, his want to win is unquestionable. As a poor pocket quarterback, he likes to scramble outside of the pocket and find a scampering Hines Ward, a Santonio Holmes who’s often presenting a deep threat, or a gritty ‘receiver’ in (also a Southwest Virginia ‘homie’, Honaker High School graduate) tight end Heath Miller.

It’s not going to come down to the play of the quarterbacks or the play of either defense. If it were between the play of the defenses, Pittsburgh would probably get the nod and we’d be giving them an automatic Super Bowl victory anointment, right? The game will end up in the hands of which team presents the better offensive line play. Obviously Pittsburgh has confused their opponents this season with their ostentatious blitz packages, but what about Arizona over the past three games? With their hot streak riding on a power line, they can blitz with the best of them. If Arizona can force Roethlisberger to stay in the pocket, the Steelers will be in trouble. But first, they will have to obstruct running back Willie Parker.

Prediction:

My mind says the Pittsburgh Steelers, but my heart leans toward the Arizona Cardinals. Due to my understandable hate for the Steelers, I’m going to listen to my heart on this one. I’m going with a 24-17 Cardinals victory. I see their offensive line doing its job and Kurt Warner not letting his third Super Bowl appearance be a lost cause.