Sunday’s NFL action may have come across as boring television at times, as both the AFC and NFC Conference Championships appeared dull and too long for a combined six quarters, yet exciting, entertaining and even emotional during the final two quarters of each contest.
The Green Bay Packers and Pittsburgh Steelers will face-off against one another on Sunday February 6, 2011, in Dallas, Texas, for all the marbles and the chance to add another Lombardi Trophy to their enchanted and rich franchises collection. In some ways, this is almost appears as a fairy tale ending for a league that could be locked out, as of March 4, 2011, so if that is the case, then it is possibly easy to say, “Thank You NFL Gods for giving us a classic match-up!”
The Sunday NFL marathon began with a historic showdown at Soldier Field in Chicago, Illinois, where both the Packers and Bears were able to entertain an exciting and revved up crowd that was hoping for a fun back and fourth contest. Yet, despite Aaron Rodgers’s quick touchdown dash and another score later in the first half, it almost seemed as if this game was just too boring to watch.
Heck, Bears head coach Lovie Smith kept squinting and thinking about his dinner plans, while his quarterback, Jay Cutler, proved that he is indeed not a tough guy after all. In fact, it could be believed that Cutler is a “fake” or not even a competitor from watching this particular matchup.
The Bears defense kept the game close, but once the third quarter began, it got even worse. In fact, the game appeared almost too slow at times. Both teams struggled at moving the ball on offense and Cutler left the field with a “so-called injury,” which forced his back-up and second-string quarterback Todd Collins into the game.
Fan who were hoping that Collins could turn the game around and help the Bears claw their way back realized real quick that it wasn’t going to happen. Collins struggled immensely and looked incredibly uncomfortable in the pocket. Although, similar to Cutler, he too would sustain some type of injury that made him return to the sidelines.
So, with both quarterbacks out for the remainder of the game, it allowed third-string quarterback, Caleb Hanie the chance to lead his team to a fourth quarter comeback.
Hanie, who was flirting with history after he set up two impressive fourth quarter touchdowns, drove his team down into Packers territory looking to tie the game with a touchdown. Although, it didn’t happen, as Green Bay’s defense intercepted a pass and punched their ticket to the Super Bowl.
The valiant effort was something special to witness, but possibly, it has now given all Bears fans a reason to believe that there is a future franchise quarterback on the roster.
Part two of Sunday’s NFL doubleheader featured the New York Jets and Pittsburgh Steelers; two teams that had come quite far in their 2010 journey, but knew, only one could advance to Texas.
The Steelers jumped out to a large lead, which forced the Jets into a hole and made their head coach, Rex Ryan, appear uncertain about what to do. New York would at least earn three points before departing for their locker room and enter the final half of play and trailing by 21-points.
Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez played the role of Tom Brady or Peyton Manning and carried his team on a rather impressive comeback that resembled Hanie’s.
First, Sanchez found Santonio Holmes wide open on a fade route for a touchdown. Then the Jets defense played some offense by sacking Pittsburgh’s quarterback Ben Roethlisberger for a safety. The Jets would follow up with another touchdown strike from Sanchez to Jerricho Cotchery, but that would be it. The Jets wouldn’t score again and the Steelers ran out the clock, as well as earned the rights to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl.
All in all, both games were different and unique, but despite the slow and un-enjoyable football, both contests ended with a “Bang.”
Now, it is onto Dallas and certainly, the NFL has to be pleased with this matchup. Both teams have been in this league for quite some time and were two of the original dynasties and teams, so being able to play on the same field where their rival, the Dallas Cowboys plays eight Sunday’s of the year should be quite exciting.
It may only be 14-days until Super Bowl XLV, but it certainly seems that the 2010 grand finale will be well worth its wait.