Tuesday, January 11, 2022

TUESDAY TIDBITS: "This is When it Changes"

By TJ Troup 
Each week during the season look forward to writing this column and am honored to be associated with such respected historians as John Turney, Chris Willis, Eric Goska, Nick Webster, and Jeff Miller.
For those of you who read the articles, hope you spread the word and other folks around the country check out this website. Coaches talk with other coaches, and during my time in the trenches that was vital to my success, and sure learned a lot. Since shifting to research/writing have reached out to a number of writers, and last week spoke with two of the men that I respect most—Mr. Rick Gosselin, and Mr. Clark Judge. 

The conversations are always enjoyable, with plain-spoken truth, laughter, and insight. Was fascinated a couple weeks back when Seth Walder at the Eternally Stupid Putrid Network predicted the final score of the season-ending Washington and New York game as 54-31. 

Have reached out to him via Linkedin, and as of yet not heard back from him? Mr. Walder just barely missed the total points in Washington's 22-7 victory; that is if you define just missed as 56 points or eight touchdowns? What would possess someone to predict that kind of score? More importantly in the game Gibson of Washington gained 146 yards rushing, and McCain returned an interception for a touchdown which "gave" Washington a 91% chance of winning. 

This past Sunday had three games that I watched that turned into compelling drama.....especially since there were playoff berths at stake. The hard-fought Steeler win at Baltimore was flawed, but filled with enough twists and turns to be the subject of a book. 

Finishing with a winning record after starting the season 1-3 Pittsburgh just needed a win between either the Raiders or Chargers to earn a trip to Kansas City. My favorite rivalry (and possibly have mentioned this in the past) is the Rams and Niners, and boy oh boy did the game in Los Angeles become gripping drama. 

Is it possible with both these teams winning this upcoming wild card weekend that they would play again? Stay tuned! Late-night here in Kentucky and two teams that have battled each other since 1960 are going up and down the field for that final AFC playoff berth—unless it ends in a tie? For a while, looked like that might actually happen? 
The Raiders start the year 3-0, stumble and lose over the next few weeks that they had to win four straight to make the playoffs, and then do so? Amazing, simply amazing. The tournament is set with fourteen teams trying to hoist that silver trophy in February, and before going any further it is time for a fact that you won't read online, or hear on any talk show. 

Why won't you hear, or read the following fact? Simple, would take someone who actually knows how to do research to come up with the following. Every year, and I mean EVERY year since 1970 when the wild card began there has been at least one road victory! All teams want to play at home, yet there is a team that is surely going to disappoint the home crowd, who is it this year? 

Winning on the road in the play-offs takes us back to the season of 2010 and the Green Bay Packers. Aaron Rodgers and his band of Fox River studs have earned a wild card berth, and travel to Philadelphia on January 9th, 2011 to determine which team advances in the play-offs. 
With 5:46 remaining in the first quarter the Packers drive 68 yards in ten plays to score first on a Rodgers to Tom Crabtree toss. Clay Matthews sacks Vick early in the second quarter which forces a Philadelphia punt. Here comes Green Bay again on a sustained march that takes seven minutes off the clock and puts the Packers up 14-0. 

Possibly Eagle fans by this time are more concerned about getting a Philly cheesesteak and a beer than watching their beloved Eagles get pounded? Years ago the NFL for a short time had a magazine called...NFL Magazine, and the play-off issue from February of 2012 had an article by Bob McGinn entitled "Going for Two" about Aaron Rodgers and Packers. 

He begins the article with "Aaron Rodgers has overcome every obstacle and climbed every mountain in his seven seasons with the Green Bay Packers". Still rings true for Mr. Rodgers in 2022! Now back to the game......down 14-3 at the half, Tapp of the Eagles forces a Rodgers fumble on a sack, and on second down from the twenty-four Vick zips a pass to Avant for a touchdown. Maybe Philadelphia can rally and win? 

Aaron Rodgers being Aaron Rodgers guides his men eighty yards in eleven plays mixing run and pass to score as Brandon Jackson latches onto a Rodgers pass to up the ante to 21-10. Midway through the fourth quarter, Vick scores from the one but the Eagles failed on the two-point conversion to now close the gap to 21-16 with four minutes remaining. Rodgers is sacked by Clayton, and with 1:45 remaining Michael Vick gets on last chance. 

Though he completes a couple passes, the drive ends with Williams intercepting. Green Bay has won on the road in the play-offs. Ok, the Packers won a road playoff game, so what? They have done this before, and the answer is yes, but time to dig deep into Green Bay history. Since division play began in 1933 the Packers record in home playoff games(at a couple of different sites) is a sparkling 14-3, but on the road 7-12. 

The win at Philadelphia sends the Packers to face Atlanta. Respected writer Vic Carucci in the NFL Magazine began his article with "this is when it changes"..yes sir Mr. Carucci, and especially as we get deeper into the play-offs. 

Early in Atlanta, the Packers are down 7-0, but Rodgers completes 7 of 7 on the 81-yard drive to tie the game, and later directs Packer drives of 92, 80, 80, and 50 for touchdowns. The 48-21 road victory sends the Packers to Soldier Field in Chicago for the right to go to the Super Bowl, and again Green Bay earns a road win. 

Look it up, how many teams win three in a row on the road, and then win the Super Bowl? The Patriots in '85 fell short, but the Packers get it done. So, here we are eleven years later, and Mr. Rodgers does not have to leave his neighborhood for a road game in the divisional round. 

Can he get it done a second time and hoist the silver trophy? Will Hub Arkush be invited to the celebration if he does? Quoting Vic Carucci once more, "coaches strive for a sense of normalcy, but it becomes impossible during the playoffs". Mr. Carucci doesn't really care about normalcy right now, just get the ball teed up, and let's have some wild card playoff football.

1 comment:

  1. Road teams I am picking to win-
    Raiders over Bengals
    49ers over Cowboys
    Cardinals over Rams