The Schein Nine  

 

Vontaze Burfict, Blair Walsh head goats of Wild Card Weekend

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Wild Card Weekend in the NFL was, well, wild.

And with the exception of Aaron Rodgers, Eddie Lacy and the Green Bay Packers finally looking like the team we thought they would be preseason, the four games were, quite frankly, more about the losers than the winners.

The losing teams dominated the news cycle over the weekend, and this will carry over for days, and -- in some cases -- beyond.

Here are the biggest goats from Wild Card Weekend, Schein Nine style:

1) Vontaze Burfict, linebacker, Cincinnati Bengals

Horrendous. Disgraceful. Malicious. Clueless. Par for the course.

Burfict went hunting again. And it doomed Cincinnati. With Antonio Brown defenseless in the middle of the field after the ball had just soared over his outstretched arms, Burfict viciously launched himself into the best receiver in football. A no-brainer personal foul. Oh, did I mention the Steelers were losing by a point, at midfield, with less than 20 seconds remaining and zero timeouts?

Let me throw in another word choice: foolish. And irresponsible.

This was the definitive play in a legitimately unbelievable meltdown for Cincinnati. After some additional Adam Jones shenanigans (more on that below), Steelers kicker Chris Boswell nailed the game-winning field goal on the very next play, sewing up the win for Pittsburgh. This franchise is no stranger to pain, but man, oh man, this was an agonizing defeat.

Unfortunately, this type of behavior is nothing new for No. 55. (Just ask my colleague Bucky Brooks!) This is who Burfict is. This is what he does. He needs to be disciplined and held accountable. His act simply can't be tolerated and should've been stopped a long time ago.

Bengals fans will never forget this game, blowing a golden opportunity with a talented team. Cincy completely and utterly came apart, with Burfict as the sad poster child.

2) Blair Walsh, kicker, Minnesota Vikings

I saw it. I still don't believe it.

That game was over. Conversation had shifted to the divisional round. Minnesota had won. Walsh was going to hit his fourth field goal of the game and the emerging Vikes were going to survive the cold and the Seahawks. It was over.

And then Walsh missed.

He shanked it. A chippy. From 27 yards out! Walsh hooked it left and Minnesota had its dreams shattered.

That's one that will stay with Walsh, the Vikings and their long-suffering fans forever. Minnesota just made Walsh one of the NFL's highest-paid kickers this past offseason.

It was a win. Until it wasn't.

Wow.

3) Adam Jones, cornerback, Cincinnati Bengals

Let's get it out of the way right off the bat: Joey Porter should not have been on the field. I'm sure the NFL will toss some discipline in his direction.

But even with the ultimate trash talker-turned-Pittsburgh assistant coach somehow out on the gridiron instigating, Pacman had to keep his cool, he had to understand time, score and situation. You can't get sucked into the fray and put yourself in position to get hit with a penalty -- a penalty that made Boswell's aforementioned game-winning field goal a chip shot. Totally unacceptable.

4) Adrian Peterson, running back, Minnesota Vikings

A total no-show for Peterson in his return to the playoffs. "All Day"? Not on Sunday.

Walsh wears the ultimate goat horns for Minnesota, without question. A simple kick wins the game. But Peterson's fourth-quarter fumble, ripped loose by Kam Chancellor, was a gigantic play. Yes, Peterson led all NFL rushers with 1,485 yards in the regular season. He also led all rushers with six fumbles.

And it's not like he performed admirably throughout the rest of the game. Not at all. Peterson demanded more carries after the regular-season loss to Seattle. Well, on Sunday, he got 23 totes ... and gained 45 yards. That's less than 2 yards per carry.

Peterson flat-out blew his opportunity. And he's starting to develop a reputation for postseason futility. Not good for a generational talent.

5) Marvin Lewis, head coach, Cincinnati Bengals

Zero.

Yes, that's the number of postseason wins Lewis has piled up in his 13 seasons as the Bengals' head man. He is now an imperfect 0-7 in the playoffs.

Losing games you should win -- and spiraling out of control in the process -- have become a staple for the Marvin Lewis Bengals. The man deserves credit for making this franchise a contender from September through December, but there are three guarantees in life: death, taxes and the Bengals going belly-up in January.

Mike Brown should go down the hall and hire Hue Jackson or Paul Guenther to take over.

This is unacceptable. And predictable.

6) Brian Hoyer, quarterback, Houston Texans

Really, this was as dreadful as it gets. It was sad. Hoyer was totally inept. Honestly, he was Kansas City's MVP in the Chiefs' 30-0 win on Saturday. The stats were horrendous. The feel was worse.

Hoyer managed to complete just 15 of his 34 passes, producing a lowly 136 yards through the air. He didn't throw a single touchdown pass, but did throw four interceptions. And he also coughed up a fumble for good measure. The second-quarter pick to Josh Mauga -- when Houston was only trailing 13-0 and knocking on the door to score -- was ugly. The game was gruesome.

Hoyer's performance was historically horrendous.

7) Special teams units, Houston Texans

With Hoyer as the quarterback, you have no margin for error. And before Hoyer even hit the field, the Texans' special teams laid a huge egg, giving up a 106-yard kickoff return to Knile Davis on the first play of the playoffs. It was deflating, suffocating and difference-making.

The game had just started. And judging by the final outcome, it was over in 11 seconds.

8) Jeremy Hill, running back, Cincinnati Bengals

Want more than stats and scores? Head to Sidelines, where NFL Media reporters dig deep to find the compelling, thoughtful stories that are the heartbeat of this game.

Lost in all of the Bengals' misbehavior, Jeremy Hill fumbled the ball.

Jeremy Hill fumbled the ball!!!!!

Burfict had just intercepted Landry Jones, and Cincy seemed primed to win.

But, it's Cincy.

Ryan Shazier ripped the ball free from Hill and Pittsburgh recovered with 1:23 left, setting up all the aforementioned insanity.

Now, Hill, like a pro and a grown man, took responsibility. He publicly owned up to his mistake. But it was a rather brutal and game-changing turnover. And it kept alive the reality of the Bengals' losing ways.

9) DeSean Jackson, wide receiver, Washington Redskins

The story in D.C. was Green Bay's offense clicking in a way we haven't seen in ages. But it took the Pack a bit to get going. And in the first quarter, Washington left points on the board and failed to build a two-score lead.

You can bemoan the Redskins' goal-line offense if you'd like, but I'm placing the blame squarely on DeSean Jackson. His lackadaisical effort going into the end zone cost Washington four points. Initially called a touchdown, the score was rightly overturned. And the Redskins eventually had to settle for three. It was a huge momentum swing.

Additionally, Jackson supposedly had a matchup advantage against the Green Bay secondary. He completely disappeared after that non-touchdown reception, failing to record another catch the entire game and finishing with just two grabs for 17 yards.

Follow Adam Schein on Twitter @AdamSchein.

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