I feel like a sad Kanye record.
Maybe Welcome To Heartbreak: “And my head keeps spinning/I can’t stop having these visions/I gotta get wit’ it.”
Or how about See You In My Nightmares? “Okay I’m back up on my grind/You do you and I’m just gon’ do mine/You do you cause I’m just gon’ be fine/Okay I got you out my mind.”
I think that if I had an 808 drum machine and actually knew how to produce music and use some auto-tune, I’d create the sequel to Kanye’s 808s & Heartbreak.
That’s how sad I feel now that my 49ers have been eliminated from the NFL playoffs. If you ever watched the old Martin Lawrence sitcom, he’d ask his friends, “Give me love?” whenever he was sad. That’s how I feel. Like LL Cool J, I need love. Okay, maybe not that bad. I mean, I don’t expect you to lay down your jacket for me to walk over a puddle.
But man, for San Francisco 49ers’ and Baltimore Ravens’ fans, heartbreak is the right word. There’s no crying in football, and since this is my last 10 Yard Fight of the year (we’ll have a more collaborative preview a few days before the Super Bowl), it’s time to man up and gets ta writing.
1. If I told you that Joe Flacco outplayed Tom Brady, Anquan Boldin had the most catches and most yards in the game, and that the Baltimore Ravens’ defense won the turnover battle, you’d have suspected that the Ravens won the football game right? All the cards laid down perfectly for the Ravens and yet New England came out on top.
2. Quote from Sir Thomas Brady:
Well, I sucked pretty bad today, but our defense saved us.
How is that even possible? The New England defense was much-maligned all season long and it was so bad in the secondary that wide receiver Julian Edelman played a lot of snaps on defense this year. But, there was no bigger play for the Patriots than backup defensive back Sterling Moore stripping Lee Evans in the end zone when it looked like Evans had a sure-fire game-winning touchdown.
3. How’s this for earning your money? Edelman had a pass reception, a rush, two tackles on defense in coverage, and also a punt return. Who else plays three-ways in the NFL?
4. My dad was telling my kids at the time that the play of the game was going to be the 4th quarter 4th and 1 play, which turned into Tom Brady’s QB dive for a touchdown. It might’ve been, except there were five bigger plays in the quarter. Flacco and Brady threw back-to-back picks. Brady’s pick was in the end zone on an amazing diving catch by Ravens DB Jimmy Smith. And then you had the horrendous, gutless 3rd down call by offensive coordinator Cam Cameron when the Ravens were moving toward a score on their second to last drive. I already mentioned the Moore strip in the end zone. And then the biggest play of the game …
5. Tom Brady was gnawing on his lip, dying while taking a knee on the sidelines awaiting his fate as Joe Flacco was directing a great two-minute drive. When it stalled out, the Ravens decided to go for the tie and called in Billy Cundiff. For whatever reason, Cundiff was late racing onto the field to get into position and finally joined his teammates with only 11 seconds left on the play clock. Right before he pushed it left, the play clock nearly expired. Why didn’t they call a time out and let him get fully ready? It was a weird way to end the game for sure, and not just because he missed a short field goal. Seems like it could’ve been prevented with some smarter time management.
7. But it was not all Williams’ fault. A couple weeks ago, I wrote that the Giants were the ultimate hang around team. They seemed to like to play from behind and with their big play receivers, no game truly felt over. Eli Manning led all of the NFL in 4th quarter TD passes. But the 49ers are similar. Alex Smith and Eli Manning had to win many games coming from behind in the 4th quarter this year. In fact, maybe the biggest strength of both guys this year was the fact that they stayed calm in the 4th quarter. I wrote all of that to say; in a close game, many times, it’s the team that makes the least amount of mistakes that wins. The Giants’ offense had zero turnovers. Credit to the Giants offense for not giving the ball away.
9. Hats off to the Giants. The entire week, I was pointing to the fact the Giants were so streaky during the regular season and because of that, unpredictable. The 49ers, on the other hand, were in every game this season and were far more consistent. I thought the Giants’ streakiness would hurt them in a game like this that was going to be close for sure. But the Giants were the far more consistent team in the game. They took what the 49ers defense gave them, played hard on both sides of the ball, confusing the 49ers passing game and really shutting out the wide receivers. Alex Smith hooked up on two TDs with Vernon Davis, but outside of that, the 49ers offense was flat.
10. As good as the 49ers coaching was this year, and according to awards, there was no better coach than Jim Harbaugh, they might’ve been out-coached today. The 49ers were eating up yards on the ground and seemingly decided to stop running the football. It’s not like they were successful passing the football as Alex Smith’s numbers were Tebow-esque. To put it into perspective, the 49ers gained 5.4 yards for every run play and only 6.8 for ever passing play. So why did they only run the ball 7 times in the 4th quarter and overtime periods? In the same time frame, Alex Smith was 5-12 passing and was sacked twice. If Frank Gore is the heart and soul of your offense, he should get more than 16 carries in a close game of smash mouth football.
However, I’m not going to end this column on a negative note. The 49ers had a fantastic season. The Ravens had a fantastic season. Both teams’ fanbases, while allowed to be sad, should be ultimately proud of how their teams played. The Giants and Patriots were just three points better. And now onto a rematch of Super Bowl XLII, which seemed to be the popular prediction of the week. Like Nas said, “It was written.”