I am not going to spend a lot of time here doing a retrospective of the 2008 NFL season. I will save that for a later article. Instead I’ll quickly chronicle the games I saw.
GAMES I WATCHED
New England Patriots over Buffalo Bills, 13-0
The New England Patriots beat the Buffalo Bills in one of the worst winds I have ever seen. The wind was so bad field goals and punts were invitations to misadventure and neither team threw a pass into the wind in the first half. The game was a running game, and neither team could stop the other’s rushing attack despite stacking the line of scrimmage with eight to ten men. The outcome of the game was decided largely on superior game management by Coach Bill Belichick, who successfully played a field position game and won.
The key play of the game happened in the third quarter when Trent Edwards was sacked and fumbled the ball away, leading to a New England touchdown into the wind. The second key play was on 3rd and 8 near midfield when Belichick called for a quick kick by Matt Cassel. Cassel performed the kick perfectly and the Patriots downed the ball near the one yard line. I am sure Belichick was hoping to end up with better field position and more manageable down and distance since Buffalo was facing the wind. Unfortunately the defense allowed Buffalo to go on a long non-scoring drive. But that ate up a lot of the clock in the fourth quarter, which was almost just as good.
Despite going 11-5, the Patriots missed the playoffs for the first time since 2002. Given the injury to Tom Brady and nearly the entire defense being second stingers due to injury, it was a good year and one to be proud of.
MVP: Sammy Morris, RB, New England Patriots
Baltimore Ravens over Jacksonville Jaguars, 27-7
The Patriots needed the Ravens or the Dolphins to lose to make it into the postseason and I knew it wouldn’t be Jacksonville to come riding to our rescue. The Jaguars have been awful this year, and worse, other than David Garrard, Maurice Drew-Jones, and Fred Taylor (who seems to be washed up), they have little heart. As I expected, the Ravens pretty much thrashed the Jaguars on both sides of the ball, making for a rather boring and uneventful game.
MVP: Ed Reed, SS, Baltimore Ravens
San Diego Chargers over Denver Broncos, 52-21
The Denver Broncos had one of the more monumental collapses at the end of the season I’ve seen in some time. They were thoroughly and completely outclassed by the Chargers in a embarrassing end to the season. This was essentially a playoff game but the Broncos acted like they were playing in a toilet bowl game where the loser gets the first round draft pick. The game was a bore, and so are both of these teams.
MVP: LaDanian Tomlinson, RB, San Diego Chargers
PLAYERS OF THE WEEK
Offensive Player: Michael Turner, RB, Atlanta Falcons. 208 yards rushing.
Defensive Player: Ed Reed, SS, Baltimore Ravens
Offensive Lineman: Dan Koppen, C, New England Patriots
Special Teams: Steve Gostkowski, K, New England Patriots
Rookie of the Week: Joe Flacco, QB, Baltimore Ravens
Fast Fact: Isn’t ironic that the New England Patriots are the first team to go 11-5 and not make playoffs since the 1985 Denver Broncos. And the San Diego Chargers are the first team to make the playoffs with a mediocre 8-8 record since the 1985 Cleveland Browns.