Ladies and Gentlemen, as another exciting playoff tournament starts this weekend in the National Football League don’t be shocked by any of the results.
Don’t be shocked during the playoffs if your team gets blown out at home, on the road, wins a close one or blows out a number one seed. You can get out your thesaurus and be disappointed, discouraged, elated, or any of the other ways to show distress or excitement but don’t be shocked.
Don’t be shocked because of these two things: a 42 point turnaround in a few weeks and the 2008 Arizona Cardinals.
December 6, 2010, the New York Jets brought a sterling 9-2 record, very good defense, and serviceable offense to Foxboro, Mass. The New England Patriots brought an equally sterling 9-2 record, Tom Brady, and a serviceable defense to the game. On paper this should have been a 23-20 or 27-24 titanic struggle between divisional foes that knew each other well. Instead it was a football nightmare for the Jets and a 7 on 7 drill for Tom Brady and the New England offense. Brady spent the night cutting up the Jets’ defense into microscopic pieces. When this “game” finally ended the Jets were on the short end of a 45-3 beat down. Mark Sanchez had a horrendous night with three interceptions. Just surviving the crushing defeat would have been an achievement but the Jets managed to make it into the playoffs and won a game. It was time to go back to Foxboro…
Just over a month after getting annihilated in Foxboro, the New York Jets were back for more and Tom Brady and his mates were primed to deliver it. In one of the most remarkable turnarounds in NFL history the New York Jets beat the Patriots 28-21. The game was not as close as the final score as the Patriots scored a touchdown in garbage time. The same Mark Sanchez that had thrown 3 interceptions a few weeks ago threw three touchdown passes. Tom Brady and the same offensive machine that had steamrolled the Jets struggled with turnovers and sacks. It was almost as if Brady and Sanchez had switched uniforms.
If a 42 point turnaround doesn’t convince you, consider the curious case of the 2008 Arizona Cardinals. The end of Super Bowl 43 was awesome as Ben Roethlisberger dropped in a pass to a toe tapping Santonio Holmes. The Steelers won a squeaker but the Arizona Cardinals nearly did the astounding…win the Super Bowl with one of the worst teams to ever get in the playoffs. The 2008 Cardinals had Kurt Warner, Larry Fitzgerald, and seemingly nothing else…especially on defense. The Cardinals lost 7 games. On the surface that’s not so bad. Other Super Bowl teams have lost 6 or 7 games. The 2008 Cardinals lost games, but did so in spectacular fashion: 56-35; 48-20; 35-14; 47-17. Over the last 6 games of the season the Cardinals were 2-4 and just got destroyed in some games – home and away. Many experts were questioning the NFL playoff system that let such an awful team into the playoffs. After all the Cardinals, at 9-7, had won the woeful NFC West while the New England Patriots were out of the playoffs with an 11-5 record. Almost all agreed the Cardinals would be one and done in the playoffs.
In astounding fashion the Cardinals somehow caught fire and lead the Super Bowl until the aforementioned play took the title from them with only 35 seconds to go.
So if you are a fan of a team that just looked lost at times at the end of the season (Houston Texans), got flattened by the greatest running back of our time (Green Bay Packers), or just plain didn’t look good closing the season (Baltimore Ravens), fear not. Don’t be shocked by what happens this weekend, good or bad, and believe anything is possible in these NFL playoffs.