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The Schein Nine

John Fox, Peyton Manning top divisional round's biggest losers

We will always remember the divisional round of these NFL playoffs as epic. But part of the drama included some losing efforts, questionable decisions and overall head-scratchers.

So in this edition of The Schein Nine, I present the nine biggest losers (if you will) from the weekend:

1) John Fox

The Denver Broncos coach had a terrible day at the office on Saturday.

The decision to take a knee at the end of regulation after Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco shocked the world with his throw to Jacoby Jones for the game-tying touchdown was mind-blowing. Fox employs Peyton Manning. He had two timeouts at his disposal.

I don't want to hear spin about losing momentum. Fox should've changed the momentum. This was my easy first guess while watching this divisional-round matchup. It was absurd that Fox sat on the ball.

As if the point needed to be proven any other way, look at the two throws Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan made at the end of regulation to beat the Seattle Seahawks in their divisional-round game on Sunday. How about what the Houston Texans did at the end of the first half against the New England Patriots, scoring 10 points in less than four minutes?

Fox's conservative play cost him dearly. Denver was the hottest and most complete team entering the playoffs, and the Broncos blew it. I know Fox is a defensive guy, but you can't coach that way with Manning.

The table was set for Denver to make the Super Bowl. Fox will have to live with that. Next time, he must play to win the game.

2) Peyton Manning / Mike McCoy

Manning said he was the one who called the run play on third-and-7 after the two-minute warning. Whoever called it, that can't happen. In no universe is running with Ronnie Hillman the right call -- and Hillman proved that by failing to gain a yard.

In overtime, however, McCoy seemed to be way too comfortable going to Hillman -- his third-string rookie running back! This nonsense came one year after McCoy threw the ball -- with Tim Tebow, of all people -- to beat the Pittsburgh Steelers in last season's playoffs.

I think the world of Mike McCoy. I'm not at all shocked that McCoy has reached a deal to become the next head coach of the San Diego Chargers. But you have to think about putting the ball in the hands of your best players. That's the lesson, learned the hard way.

3) Rahim Moore

Credit Flacco. He stepped up in the pocket and threw the aforementioned touchdown to tie the game. But the angle taken by the Broncos defender was awful and unacceptable. Moore must be more disciplined.

Moore was the face of failure for Denver's defense. But cornerback Champ Bailey was brutal, too. Defensive linemen Von Miller and Elvis Dumervil were non-factors. Denver's defense was better than Baltimore's during the regular season, but winners only get recognized for what they do in January.

4) Dom Capers

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick put on a performance for the ages Saturday against the Green Bay Packers. I credit Kaepernick more than I blame the Packers' defense. But as the Packers' defensive coordinator, Capers didn't make any adjustments. Clay Matthews never got going. A potential Super Bowl season was wasted by faulty defense.

5) Darrell Bevell

On NFL Network
"NFL Replay" will re-air the Falcons' 30-28 divisional playoff win over the Seahawks on Tuesday, Jan. 15 at 9:30 p.m. ET.

As the Seattle Seahawks' offensive coordinator, you hand the ball off to Robert Turbin on third-and-1 and Michael Robinson on fourth-and-1? Do you remember that you employ Marshawn Lynch? Trying to get cute? That's totally unacceptable when your team is in a big first-half hole and desperate for points.

Don't try to outthink yourself, Darrell. Do what you did to get to that point.

But it could've been worse...

6) Pete Carroll

I would've put the points on the board at fourth-and-1 near the end of the first half, instead of running it. There was plenty of game left, as proven by the majestic Russell Wilson-led comeback. I thought that call was botched by Carroll.

I also couldn't believe the Seahawks' head coach called a timeout to ice Matt Bryant's 49-yard field-goal attempt in the game's closing seconds. This is not a second guess. After Seattle finally took the lead, the Georgia Dome crowd was aghast. In the series of Falcons playoff failures, collapsing after being up by 20 would've been the worst. This was a miscalculation.

I also would've played the same defense I was playing all game on Ryan's final drive.

The lesson for Carroll is not to get too cute. The Seahawks are in great shape for the future, but football is a funny game. And Seattle is in a tough division with the Niners, a rising St. Louis Rams team and the Arizona Cardinals, who are a quarterback away from being strong.

7) Rob Gronkowski

Gronk is done for the playoffs. The Patriots tight end needs surgery on that troublesome elbow again. Shane Vereen stepped up for New England, big time, with two touchdown catches and 83 yards via the passing attack on Sunday. But this is kind of a big deal.

The Patriots are facing a super-confident Ravens team in the AFC Championship Game, a team that has outplayed New England the last two times they've met: in Week 3 this season and in last season's AFC title matchup.

This is a blow.

8) Matt Schaub

Ryan took the step. Flacco was a monster, and now has seven playoff wins to his name.

I'm a Schaub fan, but he isn't in the same class as Ryan and Flacco, let alone elite. He's on the next level down, and that's a problem when you need a quarterback to step up in the playoffs. Schaub is the "franchise" quarterback for the Texans, but can they win with him?

I think Houston needs to be active in finding Schaub another veteran receiver who can play opposite Andre Johnson.

9) Adam Schein

So, how were your last few days?

I went 1-3 picking games in the divisional round. I picked a Twitter fight with Snooki. I am reminded -- with regularity -- that I wrote (all based on fact, by the way) that I couldn't trust Flacco. For effect, I said on SiriusXM that veteran linebacker Ray Lewis was a "glorified mascot" in his return for the Ravens -- meaning he was there for energy, but couldn't play at a high level anymore -- and he went on to lead the team with 17 tackles Saturday. I have no regrets about writing that I trust Russell Wilson more than Matt Ryan, though Ryan did come through when it mattered the most.


Bag it, Schein.

Follow Adam Schein on Twitter @AdamSchein.

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