Sunday, January 18, 2009

Forget the stats: AFC Championship Game

The Game

It was the hard-nosed battle we had hyped it up to be. The picture to the right sums it up quite well.

In a game with five fumbles (two lost) and three interceptions, both teams combined to average only 3.85 yards per play, barely more than half the 6.53 yards per play of the earlier game.

The rookie QB finally showed his youth, untimely turnovers, big overthrows, and a QB rating less than his young age.

A superstar safety scored a defensive touchdown that defined the game. The problem was it wasn't who the hype expected. And so the team with the most super bowl wins and second most appearances is to take on the team that barely knows what a super bowl is.

The Rant

Contained within this old-school defensive game is a troubling trend in this league, one that will make me sound like an old woman as I rant about it.

Clearly both the Steelers and Ravens make their name being imposing defenses, with players scared for their skins should they leave themselves unprotected. This doesn't justify, however, the amount of wreckless head-first tackling in this game and throughout this season by defensive backs and others.

Tonight featured a direct helmet-to-helmet hit from a frustrated Limas Sweed, on what was a meaningless block, along with a similar hit by Ryan Clark, of Wes Welker destroying fame, causing Willis McGahee to be carried off the field on the cart. In related super bowl conversation, Anquan Boldin knows just what I'm talking about.

Now, I'm all in favor of big hits and hard play, but this helmet-to-helmet viciousness has to stop. The more kids at home see this on the pro field, the more they'll think it's an appropriate and desirable way to make tackles, when in fact it's dangerous to both parties and unnecesary. Concussions and neck injuries are far more likely, while it'd be a better football play to hit the ball, not the helmet.

Then why do it? To make the opponent fear for his spine while your coach fears for your own? To beat your chest and bark into the camera? For the pride of standing over your victim?

You're better than that, NFL. Think of the children.

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