In a wild divisional-round weekend chock-full of memorable moments, astonishing twists and inspiring performances, what was the most stunning development?
Kaepernick made Packers look comically overmatchedThe Baltimore Ravens' comeback was awe-inspiring, but it didn't stun me. The Green Bay Packers' complete defensive no-show was the bigger surprise.
Credit has to go to Colin Kaepernick for his play, but let's be real: The San Francisco 49ers' coaching staff put a clown suit on Mike McCarthy, Dom Capers and Co. Green Bay was lucky to be competitive for most of that game. The Packers were a team with Super Bowl aspirations and pedigree. Yet they looked like the worst team still playing over the weekend.
Denver's shocking defeat won't soon be forgottenI have to go with the Denver Broncos' loss. Colin Kaepernick had a great performance against the Green Bay Packers, but you could see the basis for it in previous games. He had shown the ability to run the option. He had displayed the speed to make big plays. Also, Green Bay had shown a weakness when it came to defending the outside running game, specifically at outside linebacker and cornerback. And in the other NFC bout, Matt Ryan and his Atlanta Falcons receivers had showcased their ability to move the ball all year. With two timeouts and only about 40 yards needed to set up a makeable field goal, you knew they had a chance.
As for the Broncos ... They were at home. They had a strong offense and defense and a week's rest. On the surface, they should not have lost, but some things happened over the course of the game that turned things in the Baltimore Ravens' favor. I thought the loss of Knowshon Moreno was huge. He gave the Broncos a better running presence than Ronnie Hillman; Moreno took some of the pressure off Peyton Manning. In reality, though, Denver still should have won. Jacoby Jones' miraculous touchdown catch that tied the game late in the fourth quarter should have been an easy interception for Rahim Moore.
Sadly, Moore will never live down epic fail in Broncos' lossWhile there was much to be shocked by during this playoff weekend -- like the Seattle Seahawks almost pulling off a 20-point comeback win, as well as the astoundingly easy manner in which offenses can score in the postseason -- the Broncos' collapse has to be at the forefront of everyone's mind.
Rahim Moore's epic deep-ball flub at the end of regulation boggles the mind. He played Joe Flacco's pass like a punt he wanted to catch instead of turning his hips, running with the receiver and relocating the ball to simply break the play up. I feel terrible for him, and no game truly comes down to one snap. Yet, Moore's mistake in that situation is the moment I'll remember most from the divisional round.
Green Bay due for major changes after getting embarrassed by Kaepernick and Co.I can't get over how incredibly unprepared Green Bay was for Colin Kaepernick. After Charles Woodson's postgame comments -- "We didn't anticipate the quarterback running the way he did" -- I'm wondering if the Packers even practiced last week. It makes me think I could be a defensive coordinator in the NFL, because the first thing I would say in a team meeting is, "As I'm sure you've seen all season long, this Kaepernick guy is mobile." Yet the Packers played slow and unsure, as if they didn't know about this aspect of his game.
Whenever I hear a player talk about executing the defense after such a shoddy day, I know it's a team that had problems deciding just how to attack, with players who struggled to absorb just what it was they were supposed to do. The defensive message was jumbled, and it was ultimately lost. Clay Matthews is as good a linebacker as you'll find in the NFL, but watching him get completely turned around on a play where he had no idea where the ball is tells me that's not a bad defense; that's a defense that wasn't ready to play on Saturday. I thought Green Bay would be in trouble in this one, but the Packers looked foolish. That's inexcusable. They're going to have a ton of changes next season.