By Clark Judge
Talk of Fame Network
Dallas defensive end David Irving says the Cowboys “need” another shot at the Giants. No, they don’t … not unless they “need” another loss.
It’s not just that the Giants beat Dallas both times they faced the Cowboys this season. It’s that their defense can … and has … shut down the Cowboys and that the Giants are comfortable on the road in the playoffs, going 5-0 there since 2007.
Of course, that was the year the Cowboys had home-field advantage, met the Giants in the divisional round and were stunned at home. It could happen again, and defense is the reason. Since Week 7, nobody has given up fewer points than Big Blue.
But there’s more than defense and history here, people. The Giants discovered a running game Sunday, piling up a season-high 161 yards, with rookie Paul Perkins producing 102.
And that’s huge. For the first time, they may be able to protect error-prone quarterback Eli Manning with a rushing attack that was a staple of the Giants’ last two Super Bowl teams. So the Giants have defense, history and now … maybe, just maybe … a running game in their corner.
Trust me, David Irving, you don’t want to see these guys again.
(Ezekiel Elliott photo courtesy of Dallas Cowboys)
(Eli Manning photo courtesy of N.Y. Giants)
SILVER AND BLACK LINING
So Oakland lost more than a game Sunday. The Raiders lost the AFC West title, the No. 2 playoff seed and their second-string quarterback, too.
But all is not gone, Raiders’ fans.
With their loss in Denver and the Chiefs’ win in San Diego, the Raiders dropped to the fifth seed in the AFC playoffs which means … yep, which means they travel to Houston next weekend to meet the Texans.
So what? So the Texans are the only playoff team the Raiders can beat without Derek Carr. Even if Matt McGloin can’t play, the Raiders still have the edge at quarterback with rookie Connor Cook.
No, I don’t know what they get from Cook, but I do know what Houston gets from Tom Savage and Brock Osweiler … and it’s not good.
It’s a mess.
Plus, there’s this: Oakland is 6-2 this season on the road, including 5-0 outside the division. I know, the Texans are 7-1 at home, but let’s face it: If you don’t have a quarterback, you’re playing rugby.
Bottom line: The Raiders aren’t going deep in the playoffs, but they do have a chance to win a playoff game … which is more than I imagined a week ago.
(Derek Carr photo courtesy of Oakland Raiders)
- Good news for New England and Dallas: The top seeds in the AFC and NFC playoffs have gone to Super Bowls the past three seasons.
- Well, now we know what Michael Floyd can give the Patriots, and it’s not good for anyone trying to climb over New England. In his first real trial with his new team, Floyd made an immediate impact. He scored once, carrying five Dolphins into the end zone, and set up another TD with a devastating block that sprung Julian Edelman. In short, he’s another weapon for a team that doesn’t need one.
- One more reason to like the Patriots: Look what they’ve done the past three games — namely, outscore opponents 92-20, allowing touchdowns only in Sunday’s 35-14 beatdown of Miami.
- Pittsburgh didn’t win that game. Cleveland lost it. The Browns had two costly fumbles inside the Pittsburgh 5, then blew a first-and-goal from the 2 in overtime by throwing three straight times. Are you kidding me? Isaiah Crowell runs for 152 yards but never touches the ball on that last series? Hue Jackson, report to the principal’s office.
- But look at it this way, Browns’ fans. You won by losing. You have the first pick of the draft.
- Just a hunch, but Aaron Rodgers moved to the head of the class for league MVP … with Matt Ryan and Derek Carr squeezing him.
- Somewhere, Bruce DeHaven is shaking his head. I can’t imagine what he’d say if one of his Bills’ special teamers allowed a kickoff to land in the end zone without one of his return men touching it – and then standing around while opponents recovered it … which is just what happened in Buffalo’s loss Sunday. Of course, that never would have happened with one of DeHaven’s special teamers.
- Someone tell Andrew Luck to save the fist pumping. That was Jacksonville he beat.
- Houston is the AFC’s fourth seed in the playoffs for the second straight year, but let’s be honest: The Texans were better off with Brian Hoyer a year ago than they are with Tom Savage or Brock Osweiler now.
- If I had to choose between Trevor Siemian and Paxton Lynch to get me to the Super Bowl I think I’d step down as head coach, too.
- Dallas better hope it doesn’t face Green Bay, too. The Packers are 8-1 in their last nine games indoors, with quarterback Aaron Rodgers throwing 29 TDs and one interception.
- Once upon a time Chip Kelly was going to revolutionize the NFL game … until, of course, he couldn’t. He lost 16 of his last 19 games, including a franchise-record 13 straight this season in San Francisco. Time to take the Nick Saban Highway, Chip, and return to college football.
- Smart move by Dallas to play Tony Romo. You never know when you might need him.
- My New Year’s wish: To see Roger Goodell hand the Lombardi Trophy to Tom Brady. In an ideal world Brady would win league MVP, too, in an updated version of The Empire Strikes Back.
- Coming soon to Pay-Per-View: Aqib Talib vs. Michael Crabtree, with Odell Beckham Josh Norman and Ndamukong Suh-LeGarrette Blount the undercards.
- The Saints should cut the charade and auction Sean Payton to the highest bidder. He’s gone as far as he can in New Orleans. So move on and gain draft picks for him.
- Not sure who had the worse weekend: Jay Gruden on New Year’s Day or Mariah Carey on New Year’s Eve.
- Don’t feel sorry for Mike McCoy. The guy got one more year in San Diego than he deserved and lost 13 of his last 14 AFC West contests. By contrast, the Chiefs’ Andy Reid won his last 11 division games.
- No team was more disappointing this season than Carolina, and nobody was more disappointing than its quarterback, Cam Newton. His 75.8 passer rating was the lowest of his career as were his 359 yards rushing, and his 14 interceptions were the most since his rookie season.
- Consider this Matt Ryan’s turn to prove critics wrong; to prove that, yes, as a matter of fact, he can win big games. The guy is 1-4 in the playoffs, with three of those five games at home.
WHAT WE LEARNED …
Tony Romo passed the audition.
The Patriots are tougher to beat on the road than they are at home. They didn’t lose a game there this season.
Dallas caught a break with Green Bay playing the Giants next weekend. The Cowboys don’t want to face either.
It sounds as if Steve Smith is serious about retirement this time around.
The Lions have run out of miracles.
There is more life in Forest Lawn Cemetery than the Rams’ offense.
… AND WHAT WE DIDN’T
What Joey Bosa could have done had he played an entire season.
When New Orleans realizes defense is worth playing.
Why anyone punts to Tyreek Hill.
What’s next for Kirk Cousins.
What to make of Jared Goff.
What would’ve happened to the Chargers without 21 players on injured reserve.
SUNDAY’S HALL OF FAMER
NEW YORK GIANTS CB DOMINIQUE RODGERS-CROMARTIE. He had two interceptions to short-circuit Washington drives, including one with just over a minute left to bump the Redskins from the playoffs. DRC is part of a revamped defense that has the Giants in the playoffs for the first time since 2011 … or the last time Big Blue won a Super Bowl … and the envelope, please: The Giants were the only team this season not to allow an opponent to score a touchdown on drives starting in the final five minutes of a contest. There were 20 of those series with seven takeaways – including one very big one by DRC Sunday.
SUNDAY’S HALL OF SHAMER
EVERYONE ASSOCIATED WITH THE BUFFALO BILLS. Bad enough that they lost to the woebegone Jets. But they were humiliated … and not always by Gang Green. I mean, how do you allow a kickoff to bounce untouched into the end zone … then stand by while it’s recovered by your opponent? Stupid, stupid, stupid. If I’m Anthony Lynn, and I have other options, I consider them seriously. This is a dysfunctional organization with a dysfunctional football team.