Final Four

“No one on the corner have swagga like us…”
M.I.A. – Paper Planes

This has been one of the most interesting seasons within the history of the NFL. Not only are the Arizona Cardinals and Philadelphia Eagles in the NFC Championship, but Rookie quarterback Joe Flacco has led…along with a top tier defense…the Baltimore Raves to the AFC title game.

Surprise Party
January 11, 2009

The Philadelphia Eagles are headed to Arizona to play in their 5th NFC Championship game in the Andy Reid/Donovan McNabb era, after defeating the defending Super Bowl champion New York Football Giants, 23-11. Coach Reid went on record after the game, saying “He [McNabb] is the best quarterback in the NFL…”

Donovan McNabb had 217 passing yards, 2 touchdowns (1 rushing td), and 2 interceptions…good enough to play another game. Cornerback Asante Samuel had a key interception in the first half which translated into a field goal, by David Akers. The absence of wide receiver Plaxico Burress was evident as the Giants offense limped to a total of 11-points.

The Pittsburgh Steelers continued their winning ways overcoming a early 7-0 deficit, defending their home turf over the San Diego Chargers 35-24. Willie Parker had 146 yards on the ground, along with 2 touchdowns. The Steelers will play at home next week, against their rival Baltimore Ravens.
January 10, 2009. The Baltimore Ravens used their trademark attacking/take away defense against the host Tennessee Titans, causing 3 turnovers, while holding them to 10 points…winning in a close battle 13-10. Matt Stover kicked a 43-yard field goal with 53 seconds left to seal it. Rookie quarterback Joe Flacco continued to amaze with 161-passing yards, and 1 touchdown.

6 turnovers doomed Carolina, as Kurt Warner, Larry Fitzgerald, Edgerrin James, and the Cardinal defense feasted on the home team Panthers. The Arizona Cardinals win easily 33-13, stunning the favorite Panthers. Carolina quarterback Jake Delhomme threw 5 interceptions. It was just a few weeks ago when at least 2 of these final teams were written off by the fans and experts alike…it just goes to so you that in the NFL…all that glitters isn’t gold.

Photos: McNabb – AP Photo/Julie Jacobson Parker – AP Photo/Keith Srakocic
Flacco – AP/Photo/Wade Payne
Fitzgerald – AP/Photo/Rick Havner

24 Responses to “Final Four”

  1. Patrick says:

    It’s amazing that five or six weeks ago, Coach Reid was on the verge of ending Donovan McNabb’s career with a benching that shouldn’t have happened and handing over the reins to Kevin Kolb. Plus, the media was doing their best to re-label McNabb in a negative away by attacking not only his heart, but his intelligence. Everybody was piling on including Warren Sapp in regards to the Cincinnati tie ‘incident’, but actually that irritating tie turned out to be a reprieve or saving grace down the stretch as Philly managed to grab the last playoff spot.

    I am an Atlanta Falcon fan, and even though our former franchise QB was run out of town , I am happy to see Donovan persevere and have an opportunity to take home the Lombardi Trophy and validate his place at Canton as one of the all-time great QBs.

  2. Temple3 says:

    Funny thing:

    After Santonio Holmes’ punt return TD vs. San Diego, Chargers LB Matt Wilhelm (Ohio State) reached out to his former Buckeye teammate and gave him a pound before the extra point.

  3. michelle says:

    Can you say all PA Super Bowl?

  4. michelle says:

    The press really needs to get off of McNabbs back.

    Few QB’S have accomplished what he has with the receivers he has had.

  5. michelle says:

    Andy coached a good game yesterday. If that continues, the Eagles will be in the Super Bowl.

  6. GrandNubian says:

    T3,

    I saw that but I couldn’t see who it was who gave him the pound.

  7. GrandNubian says:

    The Steelers’ running game was back in true form but I must give respect to the O-Line. They only gave up one sack….and if Ben had just thrown it away on that series (like I was telling him to), they would’ve gave up none.

    They really looked like the team I was hoping they’d be on offense yesterday. Parker looks like he’s healthy and it couldn’t have come at a better time. I still don’t like the fact that Arian’s offense don’t utilize the FB in their running schemes like in the past.

    Lamarr Woodley and James Harrison are just plain scary.

    ********************************

    On a side note…….I brought this up in the live blog:

    The teams who scored first over the weekend LOST every game.

    With the exception of James Harrison (Defensive POY), all the individual award winners are at home this post-season.

  8. GrandNubian says:

    Oh yeah….Mizz,

    What’s your status? Are you back on the Eagles’ bandwagon? You had them losing to the G-Men. :-)

  9. Mizzo says:

    Man when you pick games all kinds of stuff is running through your head you have to get rid of. Love can’t get in the way. Of course I wanted the Eagles to win, but the superstitious man in me was down for a reverse psychology moment.

  10. GrandNubian says:

    LOL…..ok, i remember your comment about the reverse psychology.

  11. origin says:

    Yeah Michelle Mcnabb is the only QB (besides Montana, Brady and Elway).

    Who has been to 5 or more conference championship games.

  12. origin says:

    Over the last 30 years I meant to say.

  13. GrandNubian says:

    Don’t sleep on the Cards. Their defense is peeking at the right time and if they continue to play good “D”, they could give Philly fits. Edge has that running game looking pretty good. Dude is “fresh” because he wasn’t getting huge amounts of carries in the reg. season. He’s looking to prove that he can still carry the rock and could be a difference maker against the Eagles.

    The Eagles MUST get pressure on Warner, it’s as simple as that. If they don’t, he’s gonna pick them apart. If Boldin plays, advantage Cards because Samuel will have his hands full with Fitzgerald.

    If they can get pressure on Warner, they should be fine because Kurt will give ‘em a few picks. The Eagles “D” didn’t do anything special to stop the Giants’ run game. If they don’t make the Cards one-dimensional, it’s gonna tough, especially playing in that atmosphere.

  14. Mizzo says:

    Man the Eagles are gonna kick their ass. Can’t stop. Won’t stop.

  15. kos says:

    Mizzo -

    I think the Eagles will win the battle of the birds. But, I also think that the game will be closer than everyone thinks. The remarkable thing about the Cards beating the Panthers, is that they stopped the run. I heard announcers asking all night why the Panthers went away from the run. Because the Cardinals stopped it! The Cardinals obviously spotted something about Jake Delhomme’s delivery. (I noticed he was locking in to receivers and then his delivery took too long, so you know the Cardinals noticed that, too.) Also, he focused on Steve Bojangles too much.

    Line of Saturday night from Deion Sanders: Jake Delhomme is wanted for 52 murders in Charlotte tonite. He killed his team with his turnovers!

  16. AXG says:

    I think that all of the teams play great defense, especially as of late. I wasn’t too sure about the Cardinals, but they had some new packages since the last time I saw them, which was on Thanksgiving. As for the Eagles, Steelers, and Ravens, they’re defense speaks for themselves.

    I can’t call it, but I’m looking forward to next weekend.

  17. Dredded One says:

    Its gonna be an All-Bird Super Bowl; Ravens vs Eagles.

    Ravens will beat the Steelers just on the pure statistics of the thing…will the Ravens actually go 0 for 3 against the Steelers? Against any team for that matter? Unlikely.

    The Eagles WILL be able to get to Warner and the Cards Back 4 is extremely athletic, but not so smart. All the Eagles will have to do is bait and switch on them and the game is history. Whereas DeShawn Foster is the bait, and the switch is the long pass to Curtis. Its so basic but so effective unless you’re playing an elite D which Phoenix is not.

    who wins the SB? Ravens of course!!!!

  18. Temple3 says:

    With all the focus on DEFENSE, could it be that the surprise story of these playoffs will be the OFFENSES led by Ken Whisenhunt in Arizona and Bruce Arians in Pittsburgh.

    For all the haterade I’ve tossed at Arians this season, he can say this — they had a top 10 offense last year. And, in the last 2 games with a healthy Willie Parker, the Steelers have scored 31 and 35 points in games that Ben Roethlisberger didn’t even finish. I could be entirely wrong about the season for the Steelers. I said a week ago that I had a feeling the offense would show up. If it shows again vs. the Ravens this game could be very interesting.

    Just an aside on the importance of a healthy Willie Parker…

    The last time that Parker was “100%” and played against the Ravens, he was instrumental in a blowout win. He had 23 carries for 42 yards, but the Ravens attention to him was the key to Ben Roethlisberger going 13-16 for 209 yards, 5 touchdowns and no interceptions. Steelers won 38-7.

    I’m not suggesting they’ll do that on Sunday, but if the offense shows up, the Steelers will score especially with their deep passing game. (Santonio and Nate had 4 td’s in that game.)

    As for Arizona, they’re more like Philly than folks may be willing to recognize. Both teams have defensive lines anchored by Florida State tackles…Bunkley in Philly, Darnell Dockett in AZ. Both have a #2 DT who plays with tremendous leverage and power — Gabe Watson in AZ, Mike Patterson in Philly. Both have solid linebacking corps. Both have ball-hawking secondaries with dynamic playmakers. Samuel, Brown, Dawkins. Rolle, Rogers-Cromartie, Wilson. Nice.

    Both have solid kickers — Akers and Rackers.

    Both have huge offensive lines.

    The Cardinals have an ENORMOUS edge at WR, but it plays to the Eagles secondary strength. The Eagles have an ENORMOUS edge at RB, but it plays to the Cardinals strength up front.

    The Eagles, to be fair, beat a tired team who had already clinched its post-season when they played. It was the Cardinals 4th cross country trip. It was a Thursday night game (short week). If you THINK you’re going to see the same Cardinals that you saw that night in Philly, fuggedaboutit! It ain’t gonna happen. The Cardinals front seven has demolished two of the top running games in the NFC. Atlanta — 60 yards and a huge fumble to turn the tide of that game. Carolina — 75 yards for DeAngelo AND J. Stewart.

    The Eagles that take this team lightly will be 2009 poster boys for “My F$@$! Up Summer Vacation” starring Donovan McNabb and Michael Westbrook.

    The Eagles can win. The Eagles won’t win easily and better not head to the desert thinking they will. Arizona is where they are because of their sheer strength and physicality on defense. 9 forced turnovers in 2 games. The offense gets all the attention, but the defense causes all the destruction.

    You’ve been warned.

    Let’s see if Arians and Whisenhunt keep it all in the family.

  19. Temple3 says:

    Dredded One:

    I feel you in picking the Ravens. 0-3 would be insane.

    Think of it this way…they haven’t seen a healthy Willue this year…so they could just be:

    0-1 vs. Healthy Willie (Sunday);
    0-1 vs. Healing Willie (Week 15); and
    0-1 vs. Absent Willie (Week 4).

    The way I see it, that’s much more palatable. Makes sense from here. What do you think now??
    ———————

    BTW — I still think if the Eagles are balanced, they won’t lose to AZ, but I think AZ might make them 1-dimensional in a hurry this game. Andy’s gotta stick to his guns and be patient — regardless of the score.

  20. GrandNubian says:

    Yep….what T3 said…..

  21. HarveyDent says:

    @T3

  22. HarveyDent says:

    @T3

    I know this upcoming game between ARI and PHI will not be a redux of Thanksgiving but Reid will stick to his guns with the running game. The question is does Westbrook have anything left to give though but the Cards don’t necessarily need to know that. Decoy him out wide and give CBuck more carries (as I’ve been saying since the Cincy game) because he’s probably just as fresh as Edge back there.

    Another thing is that even though the Cards’ D is playing possessed the last two games they have benefitted from sloppy QB on the other side. McNabb will not allow his snap count to be figured out a la Matt Ryan and I’m sure his INT issues are behind him now so he won’t toss it up for grabs like Jake D. It’s getting old to say but the Eagles are playing with house money and McNabb’s the banker. There’s no stress on this guy because if he stinks it up Sunday there are 20 other teams that will take him if the Eagles don’t want him. Win Sunday and on Feb. 1 and he can write his own check in Philly because while Westbrook is who the defenses gameplan for, it’s still McNabb who runs this team.

    Gimme Steelers at home with a healthy Willie Parker too because Big Ben was firing laser beams yesterday. Wouldn’t mind seeing the Ravens just to make it a storybook year for the Eagles but either way the AFC rep will be playing the Eagles because no matter what the offense does, BDawk and JJ are going to have their boys ready to knock snot out of Kurt Warner. Tag him and the rest will follow.

  23. Temple3 says:


    because no matter what the offense does, BDawk and JJ are going to have their boys ready to knock snot out of Kurt Warner. Tag him and the rest will follow.

    I think that’s the most intriguing matchup of all.

    Kurt Warner has to have time in order to be successful. Martz was notorious for casting his QBs onto the rocks down below. Whisenhunt definitely values giving Warner time. Edgerrin James, as you know, is an excellent blocker. I will be interested to see how the Eagles defend against a 3 wide set with Edge alternating as a blocker, screen outlet and runner.

    Philly doesn’t do “cat and mouse” games. They do pit bull games. If they go all out for Warner and get there, it’ll be ugly fast. I can certainly see Warner adding to Asante’s scrap book. If they don’t get there, it’s stiff arm city for everyone back there because Larry and Anquan don’t play that.

  24. GrandNubian says:

    I told yall not to sleep on the Cards…… :-)

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