The second day of the NFL’s Divisional round of playoff football provided a couple of thrillers, at least from the point of view of the objective.
Supporters of the Pittsburgh Steelers of the AFC and the New Orleans Saints of the NFC are probably feeling less than thrilled today, as their sides both managed to find a way to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, although the routes taken by the Steelers and the Saints were different in some regards.
In frosty Pittsburgh, the Steelers, rusty from a week away from the game, came out cold and immediately proved why the team has completely lost any semblance of composure since Mike Tomlin took over as Head Coach in 2007. The Steelers have managed two Super Bowl wins during Tomlin’s tenure, but they are nothing like the Steelers of the 70s that absolutely crushed all opposition mercilessly en route to four Super Bowl wins in the latter part of the decade and the early 80s.
They came out flat against the Jaguars and immediately spotted Jacksonville 14 points by letting the Jaguar’s defense score touchdowns in the early going.
Cynics might be tempted to claim that Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger deliberately did that in order to keep from giving the ball to running back Le’Veon Bell. Roethlisberger threw for over 400 yards and five touchdown passes, three of which were of the highlight reel variety.
Unfortunately, Pittsburgh’s defense could not stop Jacksonville’s offense to save their lives.
The final outcome was Jacksonville 45, Pittsburgh 42 and once again, despite his flashy credentials, Tomlin proved himself lost and clueless.
In the NFC Divisional game, all the New Orleans Saints had to do was make one tackle at the end of the game, but that task may as well have been asking them to solve the Mideast crisis.
With a one-point lead, the Minnesota Vikings deep in their own territory, without timeouts and needing nothing less than a miracle, threw a Hail Mary pass. Not only did the Saints not contest the catch, their defensive back actually dove under the receiver and took out one of his teammates, who could potentially have made the game winning tackle.
Saints Coach Sean Peyton may well belong in the same got pen with Tomlin.
Next week’s matchups for the Conference titles will be the Vikings visiting the Philadelphia Eagles for the NFC and the Jaguars going to New England to be sent packing by the Patriots.