Turn out the lights, the party’s over. It was a magnificent run for Peyton Manning in Denver. But the Broncos have gone as far as they can with him, and while he wavered on retirement after Sunday’s loss it’s apparent what his next move should be: Get out while the getting is good.
2. The problem, of course, is that Denver doesn’t have a suitable replacement, and, please, don’t start talking up Brock Osweiler. I’ve seen him. Now we find out what John Elway knows about finding good young quarterbacks, and keep this in mind: When the Broncos drafted Osweiler in 2012 they took him 18 picks ahead of Russell Wilson.
3. Seattle didn’t play Sunday, but it was the day’s biggest winner. Not only do the Seahawks draw an opponent they beat by 20 earlier this year; they get Aaron Rodgers on de-calf.
4. New England didn’t do so badly Sunday, either. The Patriots are 3-0 vs. Andrew Luck, outscoring Indianapolis 144-66 — including a 43-22 demolition in last year’s playoffs. In all three games Luck threw for 300 yards, but that’s not the story. This is: He has 6 touchdowns and 8 interceptions.
5. The NFL absolutely, positively must change that stupid rule that cost Dallas. Common sense says it was a catch, and the eyes don’t lie. I don’t know if Dez Bryant didn’t complete “the process” or “an act common to the game,” as former officiating chief Mike Pereira put it, and I don’t care. Because I don’t know what either means. I just know when a catch is a catch, and that was a catch. The rule is dumb. So change it. Now.
6. It’s not often I agree with Bryant, but when he says of the NFL, “I’m begging them. Please, please, please, take that rule out,” I’ll second it.
7. Then there’s this tweet from Odell Beckham Jr.: “I by no means cheer for Dallas. But I have no idea what or how tht’s not called a catch. Tht’s a joke.”
8. Big difference between what happened to Dallas last week and what happened to Dallas Sunday: One game was bad officiating; the other was a bad rule.
9. If defenses still win championships … and Seattle is proof that they do … New England better hope Green Bay wins next Sunday. It has no shot vs. Seattle. Reason: Defense. Baltimore exploited big holes in a Patriots’ unit that was supposed to be better than almost everyone else … but looked a whole lot worse.
10. Manning is a first-ballot Hall of Famer, but there’s one part of the resume that’s hard to ignore: 11-13 in the playoffs, including nine one-and-dones. When people call him “the greatest quarterback of all time,” the question is simple: How can you be the best when you exit nine playoffs after only one game? Answer: You can’t.
11. I see where Gary Kubiak is staying with Baltimore. Someone must have reminded him that Jay Cutler is the quarterback in Chicago.
12. Does this mean that “New York Bozo” is out of the Aaron Rodgers’’ audible rotation?
13. John Harbaugh, get me rewrite. Turns out Joe Flacco’s not the best quarterback in football after all.
14. Gene Steratore, you might want to avoid those connections through DFW. Just sayin’.
15. Who makes the first move: Jerry Jones or Jason Garrett? And what’s next for DeMarco Murray?
16. Just a hunch, but Dallas will be a trendy pre-season Super Bowl pick this summer.
17. No truth to the rumor the Cowboys will petition the league to travel with Pete Morelli.
18. Hey, Indy, there’s no need to announce Trent Richardson is inactive. We’ve known that for months.
19. I think I speak on behalf of New Jersey residents everywhere when I say, “Thank you, Fox, for keeping Chris Christie out of my living room.”
20. First, it was Bruce Arians. Now, it’s Dick LeBeau. Mike Tomlin, here’s hoping you know what you’re doing.
21. Smart move by Buffalo to hire Rex Ryan. At least the Bills know they’ll play Tom Brady close.
22. I’m tired of people calling Russell Wilson a “caretaker” of the Seattle offense. You saw what happened when Marshawn Lynch is neutralized. That’s why Wilson’s going to make the big bucks.
23. Tell me again why the Patriots shouldn’t have added Danny Amendola.
24. Nah, I don’t think Carolina could’ve used Steve Smith or Brandon LaFell.
25. Now comes the hard part for Baltimore. Torrey Smith and Justin Forsett are unrestricted free agents, while Haloti Ngata and Lardarius Webb count a combined $28 million vs. the salary cap.
FIVE HALL-OF-FAME SIZZLES
1. New England WR Julian Edelman. There is nothing this guy can’t do. He catches passes. He returns punts. He scores touchdowns. And, when needed, he throws TD passes. And on Saturday, his first NFL pass was definitely needed.
2. Green Bay coach Mike McCarthy. Believe it or not, that was the first challenge this season he won. Should’ve played the lottery, Mike.
3. Dallas QB Tony Romo. Give the guy credit. He was everything down the stretch he was not in the past. He won a playoff game. He didn’t screw up. He made big plays. He fought through injuries. And he was not the reason the Cowboys didn’t advance.
4. New England TE Rob Gronkowski. The guy is a matchup nightmare. He’s big. He’s strong. He can catch. He can break tackles. And he knows where the end zone is. Good luck, Indianapolis.
5. Green Bay WR Davante Adams. On an afternoon when Jordy Nelson had two catches, the rookie wideout from Fresno excelled — leading all receivers with seven receptions for 117 yards and a 45-yard touchdown where he left the Cowboys’ J.J. Wilcox stuck in cement.
FIVE HALL-OF- FAME FIZZLES
1. Baltimore S Matt Elam. If there’s a hole in his game it’s missed tackles, and they were there for a national audience to witness last weekend. He missed two in the first half, including one on an Amendola TD. Elam led the Ravens with 18 missed tackles this season.
2. New England CB Darrelle Revis. He should be the happiest guy in Foxboro. He was involved in three big plays, none of them good for him or the Patriots. There may be a Revis Island somewhere, but you couldn’t find it Saturday. It was lost at sea.
3. Dallas WR Dez Bryant. OK, so he got the shaft. But for the second straight week, he was held in check. Do the math, and you have Bryant with seven catches, 86 yards and no TDs in two playoff games. Not good.
4. Denver QB Peyton Manning. He was so ineffective, particularly on deep passes, that he was booed. Seldom have I seen Manning worse, and don’t tell me he’s not hurt. It’s not supposed to end this way. Then again, maybe it is.
5. Denver pass rushers DeMarcus Ware and Von Miller. Somebody put out an APB. I swear, I never heard their names called.
FIVE GUYS ON THE HALL-OF-FAME RADAR
1. New England QB Tom Brady. That makes him 19-8 in the playoffs, with more TD passes (46) than anyone in playoff history.
2. New England WR Danny Amendola. He catches two TDs against Baltimore — or one more than he had all season — and makes a huge third-down catch, converting it to a first on the Patriots’ game-winning series. Question: Where has this guy been?
3. Seattle S Kam Chancellor. He makes bone-crushing hits. He makes interceptions. He scores touchdowns. And he leaps offensive lines in a single bound. So why wasn’t he named first-team All Pro? Nothing against Eric Weddle, but he’s not in the same hemisphere as this guy.
4. Indianapolis QB Andrew Luck. He didn’t throw for 300 yards, but he didn’t need to. He outplayed Manning and made the big throws when necessary.
5. The Indianapolis offensive line. One week after Luck was barely touched, he wasn’t sacked in Denver. Somebody call rewrite again. That wasn’t supposed to happen. Instead, Denver’s edge pass rushers were going to collapse the pocket and force Luck into mistakes. Only they didn’t. Stand up and be counted, Indy.
THIS WEEK’S HALL-OF-FAME NOMINEE
Green Bay QB Aaron Rodgers. He’s better on one leg than most guys are on two, and he proved it against Dallas – hitting his last 10 passes for 163 yards, 8 first downs and two TDs. I don’t know how he did it, but Rodgers seemed to get better the more he played.
THIS WEEK’S HALL-OF-FAME QUOTE
“This game wasn’t about the officiating.” – Dallas coach Jason Garrett.
1 – Fourth-quarter TD allowed by Seattle the last seven games
4 – Straight conference title appearances by New England
6 – Lost fumbles by DeMarco Murray this year
7 — Consecutive road playoff losses for Dallas
8 – Straight home playoff wins by Seattle
9-2 – Patriots in the divisional round under Bill Belichick
16-4 – New England at home in the playoffs
25-2 – Russell Wilson at home (including the playoffs)
158.3 – Julian Edelman’s passer rating