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A great day to be an NFL fan

Denver Broncos quarterback Manning speaks with Baltimore Ravens inside linebacker Lewis after the Ravens defeated the Broncos in their NFL AFC Divisional playoff football game in Denver Reuters

These are the days that remind us how great the NFL is.

Two playoff classics — the Ravens beating the Broncos in double overtime and 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick emerging as a superstar in a win over the Packers — made Saturday a wonderful day to be an NFL fan. It was one of those games that made us nod our heads and say, “Yep, this is why we love football.”

I think the lasting image of this great Saturday in the NFL may be the postgame embrace between Ray Lewis and Peyton Manning. These are perhaps the two best football players of their generation, meeting on the field for the last time, and after a playoff game that went into a sixth quarter, both men looked drained as they hugged and then went their separate ways, Manning hanging his head and Lewis yelling exuberantly.

“I’ve never been a part of a game so crazy in my life,” Lewis said after the Ravens’ field goal in the game’s 77th minute gave them a 38-35 win.

I’ve never watched a couple of games so crazy in my life. That Ravens-Broncos game was simply insane. Double overtime in the playoffs? Broncos return man Trindon Holliday having the greatest game for a returner ever — and the Broncos losing anyway? Manning throwing an awful interception at the worst possible time? Crazy.

And then came Kaepernick, who has been transformed over a couple months from Alex Smith’s backup to one of the brightest young talents in the NFL. Kaepernick still makes some youthful mistakes, including a bad interception on the 49ers’ first drive and a stupid penalty for taunting. But my oh my is he a talented player. He throws with incredible velocity, and he’s such a good runner that he had 181 yards on the ground, more yards than any quarterback had ever had in any game — regular season or postseason — in NFL history. Until Saturday, the all-time record for rushing yards by a quarterback was 173 by Michael Vick of the Falcons in an overtime win over the Vikings in 2002. I remember watching Vick in that game and thinking no quarterback would ever do what Vick just did. Kaepernick broke Vick’s record in just his eighth NFL start.

What a day. Here are some thoughts on Saturday’s action:

The Broncos made some appalling mistakes. Denver ended both the first half and the second half by simply running out the clock, even though the Broncos had enough time and timeouts to at least get into field goal range. You’ve got Peyton Manning! Try to score! But going conservative at the end of both halves wasn’t even the worst mistake of all. No, the worst mistake was the inexcusable coverage by the Broncos’ secondary, which somehow allowed Jacoby Jones to get open for a 70-yard touchdown with 31 seconds left in the fourth quarter. An emotional Rahim Moore, who was covering Jones, stood up after the game and said, “It was my fault.” Sorry to be harsh, but he’s right: It was his fault.

Michael Crabtree and Frank Gore are the perfect complements to Kaepernick. Crabtree had 119 yards receiving; Gore had 119 yards rushing. I don’t know if any NFL team can be happier with its top quarterback, running back and receiver than the 49ers are right now.

Joe Flacco throws a beautiful deep ball. I’m not totally sold on Flacco as an elite NFL quarterback, but he certainly has a big arm, and he’s made a lot of things happen by throwing deep in these playoffs. Flacco averaged 23.5 yards a completion last weekend against the Colts, and he had touchdown passes of 59, 32 and 70 yards against the Broncos.

Pass interference is ill-defined and inconsistently called in the NFL. It’s frustrating, with how big a penalty pass interference can be, to see how the NFL’s officials can never agree on what is — and what is not — pass interference. We saw that three times in the first 10 minutes of the Ravens-Broncos game, and it went against Denver all three times: Baltimore’s first-quarter touchdown drive was kept alive by a shaky pass interference call on a third-down incompletion, then Corey Graham appeared to commit pass interference but wasn’t flagged on his interception return for a touchdown, then Demaryius Thomas was tripped on a deep pass from Peyton Manning but didn’t get the call. In overtime another questionable pass interference call went against Denver’s Champ Bailey. It’s not so much that any of those calls were blatantly wrong, it’s more that the NFL officials are so inconsistent in the way they call pass interference that no one ever knows when the official will throw the flag and when he’ll keep it in his pocket. On such a pivotal penalty — the only penalty that can give a team more than 15 yards — the NFL has to find more consistency.

The Ravens-Broncos officiating stunk even aside from pass interference. A phantom hold that called off a Broncos first down run. An absurdly long series of conferences while the officials debated an illegal hands to the face call. A referee’s decision to unilaterally abolish the tuck rule. I could go on but I think I’ll stop, because it’s depressing to focus too much on the officials after a great game. The officiating was a mess.

Aaron Rodgers was good on a day the Packers needed him to be great. This loss doesn’t fall on Rodgers. He was fine, completing 26 of 39 passes for 257 yards, with two touchdowns and one interception. But the Packers’ defense simply couldn’t stop Kaepernick, so the only way the Packers were going to win was if Rodgers played a perfect game. Instead, he played just a pretty good game. On a great day of NFL action when the starting quarterbacks were Peyton Manning, Joe Flacco, Aaron Rodgers and Colin Kaepernick, Kaepernick was the best. By a lot. No one could have expected that. And these unexpectedly great days are why the NFL will keep us coming back for more.

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160 Responses to “A great day to be an NFL fan”
  1. blacknole08 says: Jan 12, 2013 11:49 PM

    Manning lost. Rodgers lost.

    Definitely a great day to be a fan!

  2. lilrob10201 says: Jan 12, 2013 11:50 PM

    Unless you are a Broncos or Packers fan.

  3. blackandbluedivision says: Jan 12, 2013 11:50 PM

    Not if you like Defense.

  4. truthfactory says: Jan 12, 2013 11:52 PM

    Apparently the tuck rule only applies to Brady

  5. blackandbluedivision says: Jan 12, 2013 11:52 PM

    “Hit on a Defenseless Receiver” is the worst penalty in professional sports. You’re taught from Day 1 to keep your head on a swivel. You wear pads, you’re defended. You catch the ball and put two feet on the ground and see the defender…you’re defended.

  6. cali49er707 says: Jan 12, 2013 11:52 PM

    For all the Harbaugh HATERS!!!

    Back to back Conference Championship games for both!!! LOL

    You can HATE but, cant HATE!!!! TRUTH HURTS!!!!!

  7. tyler200829 says: Jan 12, 2013 11:53 PM

    Agreed

  8. tyler4richardson says: Jan 12, 2013 11:53 PM

    A great day to be a sports fan. That Ravens/Broncos game was beautiful.

  9. kaep86 says: Jan 12, 2013 11:53 PM

    Even though the juggernauts went down, the games were beyond classics! Great Saturday playoff football!

  10. sundaysundaysunday says: Jan 12, 2013 11:54 PM

    In Baltimore and San Francisco

  11. thekingdave says: Jan 12, 2013 11:54 PM

    How about two former Texan return men shining bright on the big stage in Denver, fulfilling their potential in different uniforms?

  12. woodg8 says: Jan 12, 2013 11:54 PM

    Rodgers is the most overrated QB in the league

  13. shaggytoodle says: Jan 12, 2013 11:56 PM

    blacknole08 says: Jan 12, 2013 11:49 PM

    Manning lost. Rodgers lost.

    Definitely a great day to be a fan!
    __________

    Defense won today hats off to them.

  14. wludford says: Jan 12, 2013 11:57 PM

    Ravens simply toughed it out against a good Broncos team. Packers showed the true nature of their team: star QB with not much else. 9ers are a more complete team, which came through in the end.

  15. maybenextyearbrowns says: Jan 12, 2013 11:57 PM

    not really,the Browns are not in the mix. Kinda empty feeling.

  16. countduku says: Jan 12, 2013 11:58 PM

    Any day you get to see the packers embarrassed on the football field is a great day to be an nfl fan.

  17. seahawks19081 says: Jan 12, 2013 11:58 PM

    Would not call Kapernick a superstar yet.

  18. thesportsguy52 says: Jan 12, 2013 11:58 PM

    You failed to mention the BS call on Carey Williams when he did nothing more then place his hand on Thomas’ shoulder and not pull. Oh, and how the refs signaled first down on that 4th and 1, completely ignoring the measuring rule. It was poor officiating both ways. Denver lost because of Denver.

  19. ravenator says: Jan 12, 2013 11:59 PM

    Loving this day. Awesome. Go Ravens. AFC Championship, what!

  20. tmb333 says: Jan 12, 2013 11:59 PM

    Refs decided outcome in Denver game with holding call on 3rd and 1. The first six games of the playoffs have been marred with horrible officiating. The Ravens with a make shift OL didn’t hold all day? Come on…..fix is in.

  21. ravenator says: Jan 12, 2013 11:59 PM

    To all those doubting the Ravens, we’re back in the same position as last year. Time for you to eat crow. Unfinished business baby, hate on haters.

  22. jbaxt says: Jan 13, 2013 12:00 AM

    So, Alex Smith can be had for a 3rd rounder now? He’s clearly not SF’s starter, and your young guys running circles around him. Stop playing so well Kapernick, you’re devaluing Smith.

  23. tmb333 says: Jan 13, 2013 12:00 AM

    You will never see NE get the horsecrap calls at home like we saw in Denver.

  24. mlbbal52 says: Jan 13, 2013 12:01 AM

    Tuck rule didnt apply cause Arthur Jones hit Mannings are and he lost control of the ball as his arm came forward…

  25. cali49er707 says: Jan 13, 2013 12:01 AM

    “Sitting at the dock of the bay.”

    Otis Redding & Green Bay Packers

  26. autoriot says: Jan 13, 2013 12:01 AM

    Agreed.

  27. joecb91 says: Jan 13, 2013 12:02 AM

    Rodgers played great even though a big chunk of his final numbers came on the final meaningless drive?

    And that he had a pick overturned by what the announcers thought should have been OPI and not DPI like it was called as on that final drive?

  28. timezyourz says: Jan 13, 2013 12:04 AM

    It was a good day of football. Did anyone see how hard Ray Lewis slapped Manning in the head in that post game ‘embrace’? Omg if Goodell sees it in slow motion Ray Ray might get docked slapped the s**t outta 18!

  29. golforepar says: Jan 13, 2013 12:04 AM

    TV Ratings will take a big hit without the Packers and Peyton moving on.

  30. mlbbal52 says: Jan 13, 2013 12:04 AM

    Correction McPhee’s arm hit Manning’s not Arthur Jones…

  31. philtration says: Jan 13, 2013 12:04 AM

    Any day that the Packers lose is a great day.

  32. huskersrock1 says: Jan 13, 2013 12:06 AM

    “Manning throwing an awful interception at the worst possible time? Crazy.”

    Obviously you didn’t watch many of Peyton’s playoff efforts with Indianapolis.

  33. daroc88 says: Jan 13, 2013 12:06 AM

    To answer your question:

    Double overtime in the playoffs?

    – Well yes, this is the only time it is possible sir.

  34. wannstache says: Jan 13, 2013 12:06 AM

    I must be getting old. I found today’s games to be marred by horrible defensive play. I personally don’t enjoy teams running up and down the field with such ease, but I realize the rules have changed and the majority of today’s viewers love these NBA-style games. What a dinosaur I am.

  35. cannonballdookie says: Jan 13, 2013 12:07 AM

    Another week of seeing Jim Harbaugh’s retard face is why I love football.

  36. ghosts go boo says: Jan 13, 2013 12:08 AM

    Kaepernick dominated; Ray Lewis played hard; Tebow Tweeted. Great day to be a fan of the NFL!

  37. taintedsaints2009 says: Jan 13, 2013 12:10 AM

    Holiday was good but that kick return was inexplicably awful coverage. It’s like they ran away from him after he caught the ball and just decided to chase him.

    Break down!

  38. nepatriotsforlife says: Jan 13, 2013 12:11 AM

    Bring on the Texans.

  39. reed20fence says: Jan 13, 2013 12:13 AM

    This game wasn’t about Baltimore, it wasn’t about Ray, and it wasn’t really just about football. Ray said it in the postgame. Never discount anybody. Never take anything for granted in life. It’s a timeless truth. As tge Roman philosopher Erasmus says ”fortune favors the audacious.” You can’t catch breaks in life, you can’t succeed in life unless you show up and put your best effort forward.

  40. cags777 says: Jan 13, 2013 12:14 AM

    Not even the NFL refs could bail the Packers out tonight. Tons of missed calls against the Packers that would have been called on their opponents. There was also a questionable catch from Delanie Walker that he ultimately didn’t get, but would have been granted to the Packers. As I said in another post, I only hope Clay Matthews doesn’t say the Packers beat themselves and that the blame lies with the refs.

  41. oldcat157 says: Jan 13, 2013 12:15 AM

    Woot! Road to the Superbowl is through NE! Go Pats baby!

  42. golforepar says: Jan 13, 2013 12:17 AM

    Phil, rooting for your team consists of rooting against the Packers? Call it a night Son!

  43. CaJonMcChicken says: Jan 13, 2013 12:19 AM

    Watching today’s great games made me realize that there are only 2 weeks of football left. It’s a shame

  44. stairwayto7 says: Jan 13, 2013 12:22 AM

    Discount double choke again! Both Harbaughs won on same weekend last year, then lost the following week..hmmmm……..

  45. BigBeachBall says: Jan 13, 2013 12:23 AM

    In your face packers fans…

  46. speedybeebe says: Jan 13, 2013 12:23 AM

    I’m not a Raven fan but it’s cool that we get to watch Ray Lewis play another game.

  47. larryboodry says: Jan 13, 2013 12:25 AM

    Two awesome games to watch, regardless of one’s allegiance…Sadly, refs gave the Pack a bogus TD chance at the end by not flagging Nelson for OPI.

  48. skinsfaninnebraska says: Jan 13, 2013 12:26 AM

    Today’s game officials were inconsistent, and at times borderline incompetent? Why should today have been different from any other NFL game day?

  49. jasons81 says: Jan 13, 2013 12:27 AM

    @mlbbal52

    Do you not understand the Tuck Rule?

  50. bobzilla1001 says: Jan 13, 2013 12:28 AM

    Just what is an “elite quarterback”? And who came up with this ridiculous label? And why are quarterbacks treated like baseball pitchers in that they are given “won/lost records”?
    Forget Super Bowls rings and winning percentages, quarterbacks should be judged only on how often they get their offenses into end zones.
    Why should a quarterback be credited with a personal “W” in a 10-3 victory? Or why should a quarterback be penalized with a personal “L” in a 40-38 shootout loss?
    In case no one has noticed, baseball pitchers play DEFENSE. Quarterbacks do not. Football games are either won or lost by TEAMS, not quarterbacks.
    Joe Flacco is damn good QB who throws the deep ball like no one else. But is he “elite”? What’s the difference?

  51. razzlejag says: Jan 13, 2013 12:35 AM

    “Ray Lewis and Peyton Manning. These are perhaps the two best football players of their generation”

    Huh?
    Perhaps Tom Brady is- he’s two plays, one freaky and the other spectacular, away from FIVE Super Bowl titles. The media adoration of Peyton Manning continues despite his choking away big games- today on a pick in OT and 2-3 years ago on a pick by Tracy Porter to lose the SB to New Orleans.

    Manning is now 9-11 in the post-season while Brady is 16-6 and has 3 Super Bowl rings.

  52. vietnambob2473 says: Jan 13, 2013 12:36 AM

    Officials cost the broncos the game today with the questionable calls. It should have never come down to the horrible rahim moore play or manning int in overtime because had the game been officiated correctly, the ravens would have had at least 14 less points. These are seriously the best officials that the NFL has to offer for some of the most important games of the year?

  53. baymac408 says: Jan 13, 2013 12:39 AM

    NINERS!!!! WE ARE NOT DONE YET WORLD!!! LETS GET IT

  54. purpwalk says: Jan 13, 2013 12:39 AM

    yeah, all outta cheezzzzz

  55. halftermguv says: Jan 13, 2013 12:41 AM

    Kudos for the mention of the unbelievably bad officiating in the Den/Balt game.

    That aside it was nice to see Flacco silence the critics that have been dogging him all season because he said that he considers himself an elite QB. [Note to Boomer and Tony Kornheiser…shut the eff up you smirking clowns].

  56. cmich2006 says: Jan 13, 2013 12:41 AM

    Roger wants the ravens in the Super Bowl and what Roger wants Roger gets. The refs did their job.

  57. johnnytarr says: Jan 13, 2013 12:45 AM

    But these aren’t the replacements so they must be the best, right?
    Denver played too poor to win anyway.
    Kick the dirt after you miss, not before you kick.
    70 yard TD w/ 31 sec. to go?
    Kneel with time left?
    Throw across your body?

  58. crownofthehelmet says: Jan 13, 2013 12:46 AM

    And if you like the “throw the bomb and pray” approach, first game didn’t disappoint. I’m not sure what’s more laughable, Denver’s secondary, or the dopes who say Flacco is elite.

  59. dbruno5001 says: Jan 13, 2013 12:49 AM

    Man!!! I’m a Giants fan, this playoff sat was so fun glad to watch football even If my team isn’t in the mix. GL to the teams compeating for the title.

  60. itsonlyaspeedbump says: Jan 13, 2013 12:55 AM

    Awesome first day of Divisional Playoffs.

    Completely unacceptable breakdown in coverage on that Raven’s touchdown before overtime.

    With over 30 sec’s left in the game and John Fox decides to run out the clock instead of try to drive into field goal range? YOU HAVE PEYTON MANNING. DON’T COACH LIKE A SCARED PUNK.

    Speaking of Manning…nice throw there buddy. Definitely one of the best ever, but he has made more poor throws in crucial situations than people realize…

    Kaep looked like a man among boys today, but as a Niner fan I’m betting he doesn’t look other-worldly against the ‘Hawks next week. (That’s right ATL fans, I’m giving your team zero chance to win tomorrow.)

    This year will be the last year for a long time Crabtree is not voted to the Pro Bowl.

  61. philrat says: Jan 13, 2013 12:55 AM

    Broncos’ defense got exposed as it has all year by the better teams that the broncos’ played. Dumervill / Miller were no shows. Secondary had some problems. Broncos’ still should have won but got ripped off from non-interference call on pick six.

  62. darkneptune73 says: Jan 13, 2013 12:55 AM

    Would be nice if the Texans found their manhood and eliminate Tom Brady. No Manning, Rodgers, and Brady at Super Bowl 47 would be a huge blessing.

  63. flaccotoboldin says: Jan 13, 2013 1:00 AM

    Wow, a little pro-broncos here?

    Are you kidding me with half of those comments? Sorry, but Peyton Manning is mortal, as was the Broncos

  64. nesuperfan says: Jan 13, 2013 1:01 AM

    I thought they did not apply the tuck rule because it seemed to me that Manning had pulled it back in, and gained control when he had it near his groin. Only then, and it was a split second, did he subsequently lose the ball.

    Since it was a review, it needed to be 100% conclusive to overturn the ruling on the field, and it was just too close. I don’t think the ref just unilaterally decided to ignore a rule.

  65. JP says: Jan 13, 2013 1:03 AM

    Rahim Moore = Bill Buckner.

    Career defining screw-up.

  66. jfenn98 says: Jan 13, 2013 1:04 AM

    The NFL has never been better!

  67. edisbetterthantroy says: Jan 13, 2013 1:07 AM

    Joe Flacco threw 3 TDs of 59, 32, and 70 yards against an MVP candidate.

    5 years in the NFL, appearing in 3 AFC Championships.

    Despite inconsistencies, he’s proven to win playoff games every year.

    Time to respect him yet?

  68. zhongal says: Jan 13, 2013 1:10 AM

    Peyton is the most unlucky qb in history. 2010 the last seconds kick return and field goals by the jets, and today.

  69. dirtybirds233 says: Jan 13, 2013 1:14 AM

    Am I the only one who wants to throw a brick through my TV at the sound if Kaepernicks voice? He sounds like a 1996 Slim Shady

  70. jimiinpa says: Jan 13, 2013 1:17 AM

    didn’t all the talking heads pick denver and green bay to go to the superbowl?what happened there?

  71. CKL says: Jan 13, 2013 1:18 AM

    Great…here’s a place for me to hate on the fact that the NFL puts crews together for the playoffs who have 0 experience with each other. I cannot STAND that, it’s ludicrous. One would think that with football being such a team sport, the powers that be would recognize that goes for officials as well.

    Instead of taking each of the officials at their positions who graded the highest and tossing them all together willy nilly, why not take the totals for each man on the crew and the top totals for the crews are the crews that work the playoffs? Having guys together who never worked together is a mess.

  72. morm3993 says: Jan 13, 2013 1:21 AM

    Why does it take the great Peyton Manning losing a playoff game for people to acknowledge how bad pass interference is?

    It was bad during the regular season too.

  73. bjamesa says: Jan 13, 2013 1:22 AM

    Packers Fan here, first of all, I love all the hate for my team in the comments sections. Jealousy is a stinky cologne. And yeah, they ran into a better team tonight. They had no answer for Kaepernick and looked slow and confused. The 49ers were amd are the better team. Congrats and good luck.

    And the Ravens/Broncos game was football at its best. It really is good to be an NFL fan…

  74. randomcommenter says: Jan 13, 2013 1:25 AM

    Don’t forget the refs allowed the Ravens Kicker to go on the field for a practice kick during a timeout just before he kicked the game winner.

    That is specifically forbidden in the rules and should have been a 15 yard penalty.

    One of the Bronco players even pointed it out to the refs and they ignored it.

    From the Rulebook:

    no representative of either team shall enter the field unless he is an incoming substitute, or a team attendant or trainer, entering to see to the welfare of a player.

    Penalty: For illegally entering the field: Loss of 15 yards from the succeeding spot

  75. randomcommenter says: Jan 13, 2013 1:31 AM

    Manning lost control of the ball only after his arm moved forward. This was not the “empty hand” rule where the QB loses control before the arm goes forward.

    Whether or not the Tuck rules technically applies is irrelevant. That was an incomplete pass because Manning did not lose control until that ball was past his ear in the throwing motion.

  76. hose845 says: Jan 13, 2013 1:35 AM

    Rodgers is the most overrated QB in the league

    agree!
    thought he was going to make the 49ers regret not drafting him? he’s too small to be a quarterback anyway.

  77. bbwasright says: Jan 13, 2013 1:37 AM

    shaggytoodle says: Jan 12, 2013 11:56 PM

    Defense won today hats off to them.

    —————————————-

    Really?! 1974 yards total offense between the 4 teams (almost 500 each) and 149 points on the board total and this was a day of defenses winning games? What was amazing is that you have three of the best defenses in the regular season and we got those kinds of numbers. Amazing!

  78. blackfootkiller says: Jan 13, 2013 1:38 AM

    It’s probably good the Pack got thumped this week…
    The only team left in the NFC they might beat would be the Falcons…
    And they’re going down later today…
    Buck up Packers fans…
    You’ll always have your ‘Failmary’…
    Go Hawks!

  79. govtminion says: Jan 13, 2013 1:40 AM

    I’m a Broncos fan, and you know what? You’re right. This was a good day. We lost, that sucks, but it was a great game- hard to be too upset, despite some of the bad moments in it. Congrats to the Ravens and 49ers!

  80. pleasefirecam says: Jan 13, 2013 1:49 AM

    Ready to play @ Foxboro and settle the score from last year. This time we won’t pull a Cundiff. We win close games by bending and not breaking. We back that up with an elite rookie kicker. Thank you Jones, for not Evans’ing that 70 yder on us….keep it up bro

  81. myosin10 says: Jan 13, 2013 1:57 AM

    Wow SF looks tough!! I’m looking forward to a Harbaugh bowl! Even tho it should have happened last year. Both teams got very unlucky and are now out for redemption. Look out NFL SF and Kaepernick are for real!!!

    Side note. Think the Texans wish they kept Holliday? I was shocked when he was released. He was a monster in the preseason for them.

  82. pypersrealm says: Jan 13, 2013 1:59 AM

    Regarding the (non)tuck play. The reason that it was not a tuck is because while bringing the ball back to his body he did manage to get his second hand on the football (if only for a split second). The second hand on the ball, even if for just a split second, counts as completing the forward motion.

    It was the correct call. Once again, good call, bad rule.

  83. myosin10 says: Jan 13, 2013 2:03 AM

    By the way it was great hearing everyone in the media pick against SF!!!

  84. drunkenagitator says: Jan 13, 2013 2:31 AM

    Now if only Brady’s season ends tomorrow, the weekend will be perfect.

  85. canadiantampa2fan says: Jan 13, 2013 2:33 AM

    The Broncos made some absolutely horrendous mistakes this game, but 14 Baltimore points were scored off of blown calls. The missed PI call which ended up in a pick 6 for the Ravens. And the tuck rule call which should’ve been an incomplete pass. 2 TDs right there. As bad as the Broncos were at times, they still didn’t deserve the reffing they got today. This shouldn’t have been a nail-biter at the 2 minute warning. I can only hope this reffing crew doesn’t get another game this playoff season.

  86. silentcount says: Jan 13, 2013 3:10 AM

    As good as Manning is, you can’t expect him to carry a team to a win in overtime the way Tebow can. It’s just not a fair comparison.

  87. chipwade says: Jan 13, 2013 3:19 AM

    Poor poor Rahim Moore.

  88. thebrownswillalwaysloose says: Jan 13, 2013 3:20 AM

    You didn’t mention some of the generous home-cooking the Broncos got? Three Very friendly, 1st down spots that weren’t even close, and the ridiculous hands to the face on Suggs, and the holding call on Cary Williams that kept their drive alive to name a few! Agreed on the officials taking too long to conference though.

  89. truthserum4u says: Jan 13, 2013 3:53 AM

    @joecb91

    You are 100% correct!

    Rodgers padded his final stats by going 8-10 for 75 yards and a TD on that meaningless final drive. Otherwise he was just 18-29 for 182 yards and 1 TD. And if the refs call it correctly he should have ended up with 1 TD & 2 INTs. Closer to OK than good.

  90. dabearsk says: Jan 13, 2013 4:18 AM

    Bears would have given SF a better game :)

  91. omniscient48 says: Jan 13, 2013 4:28 AM

    One of the most entertaining days in NFL playoff history. And, I’m 64.

  92. txnative61 says: Jan 13, 2013 4:36 AM

    Make note, Tom Brady—its the changing of the guard. Swaub and Flacco then Ryan, Kapernik or Wilson stand ready to assume your post at the top. You’ll likely not see another, definitely no better chance to hold the fort for the Old Guard.

  93. jshawaii22 says: Jan 13, 2013 4:50 AM

    So is the NFC West still the ‘weak’ division of the NFL? If Seattle wins, two NFC West teams will battle to go the Super Bowl.

    IMHO Denver lost because Manning doesn’t win in games outdoors in under 30 degree weather. That’s his history and his play went downhill as the game progressed. Exactly his M.O.

    js

  94. deep64blue says: Jan 13, 2013 5:11 AM

    Tuck rule wasn’t abolished, Manning had tucked the ball back in before losing it.

  95. chadwellheathkeith says: Jan 13, 2013 5:21 AM

    Not a great day to be an NFL fan if you live in the UK. Playoff games are blacked out for Game Pass subscribers here. Way to treat your customers.

  96. pastabelly says: Jan 13, 2013 5:27 AM

    I’ll take Tom Brady’s career over either Manning’s or Lewis’ any day, especially when including post seasons. Is this even debatable!

  97. tatum064 says: Jan 13, 2013 6:03 AM

    golforepar says:
    Jan 13, 2013 12:04 AM
    TV Ratings will take a big hit without the Packers and Peyton moving on.

    =============

    Little more whine with that cheese.

    somebody needs to get changed.

  98. gmsingh says: Jan 13, 2013 6:33 AM

    Wait, what? Stinky officiating and appalling mistakes make it a great day to be an NFL fan? And did Charlie McCarthy really need to wait for the playoffs to try and establish the run?

  99. racksie says: Jan 13, 2013 6:42 AM

    Pass interference is ill-defined and inconsistently called in the NFL. Armen Terzian agrees.

  100. cali49er707 says: Jan 13, 2013 7:04 AM

    Two playoff classics — the Ravens beating the Broncos in double overtime
    ______________________________ _____________
    “This one’s for John!!!…………..Harbaugh!!!!! “

  101. tbtrojan says: Jan 13, 2013 7:08 AM

    The whiney Packers season is over and the Manning Hype Machine is derailed, awesome day of football.
    I’m just awaiting the barrage of cryin from the media and Pack fans about how the Hawks game somehow cost them this game.

  102. easywolf says: Jan 13, 2013 7:11 AM

    Very well said, this writer knows what he’s talking about. I thought I was the only person who noticed Denver’s mistake of not going for at least a field goal at the end of both halves. What a poor organization.

  103. packerman1968 says: Jan 13, 2013 7:19 AM

    The problem with the Pack is coaching. There never seems to be a sense of urgency . They always seem to layed back. The defensive scheme sucks at best.

    Rodgers does not have the fire , that Brett Favre did.

    I know they reach the playoff’s most of the time. But that is it.

    We need a real coach.

  104. hamcamnewton says: Jan 13, 2013 7:20 AM

    So does anyone still blame Cam Newton for being upset with the officiating during the raiders game?

  105. nflr92 says: Jan 13, 2013 7:28 AM

    Game supervisors called down to inform Vinovich they had enforced the illegal hands to the face incorrectly, starting a 5+ minute confab. 30 seconds into that conference, the game announcers were ripping the crew apart…err..wait – it’s fine – they weren’t replacements. That’s fine. Carry on, guys, we’ll wait.

  106. monsterright says: Jan 13, 2013 7:47 AM

    Having to see Ray cry like he killed someone while praising God keeps this from being a good day.

  107. all4patriots says: Jan 13, 2013 7:53 AM

    Nice to see record-setting performances, like Kaepernick’s rushing and like Manning setting the all-time record for playoff losses (11) and first game playoff exits (8).

  108. seenoland54 says: Jan 13, 2013 7:54 AM

    And now for another day of great football. This could easily be the best weekend of football most of us will ever see.

  109. crownofthehelmet says: Jan 13, 2013 8:02 AM

    ravenator says:

    To all those doubting the Ravens, we’re back in the same position as last year.
    ————————————————————-
    Excellent. Can’t wait to see another choke job, though who’ll play the part of Evans and Cundiff? I’m sure someone will step up.

  110. football2011 says: Jan 13, 2013 8:09 AM

    Discount Double Choke! LOL

  111. rmoore7 says: Jan 13, 2013 8:23 AM

    Definitely a stellar day for football fans. Without question Kapernicks performance on Saturday was absolutely stunning. I have to wonder if he can sustain that level of play week in and week out…

  112. kremis says: Jan 13, 2013 8:30 AM

    Denver would have won if they had Tim Tebow

  113. ravensdominate says: Jan 13, 2013 8:32 AM

    O Ravens!

  114. boknowsvt says: Jan 13, 2013 8:33 AM

    Point number 4 is exactly why I turned off the game after Baltimore didn’t get a first down on fourth and five with 3 minutes left. I just don’t understand this game anymore. This has been happening more and more this season and it takes the fun out of watching. Every time there’s an incomplete pass I keep expecting there to be a flag thrown. I get trying to protect players and stuff, but it’s time to let defenders get back to defending.

  115. rathwell says: Jan 13, 2013 8:34 AM

    Am I the only one shocked that gb punted from mid-field the 4th quarter down by 14 points?

    It was much more likely for gb to complete a 4 and 4 than it was to stop SF twice in the last 10 minutes AND score two touchdowns.

    If I was an owner and my head coach quit like that he would be looking for work he next day.

  116. tomthebombtracy says: Jan 13, 2013 8:37 AM

    Here’s a stat that won’t keep Peyton from being a first year Cantonite, just saying.

    8 first game playoff losses, more than double anyone in history and a losing record, 9-11.

  117. pixelito says: Jan 13, 2013 8:38 AM

    WHAT HAPPENED TO DEFENSE IN THE NFL??????

  118. jp4120 says: Jan 13, 2013 8:40 AM

    despite brutal officiating around pass interference calls the Broncos had that game won.
    Coach Fox sat on the ball end of regulation like a dummy.
    then Fox ran on 3rd and 7…a first down ices the game.
    then the safety forgets how to play a deep ball when only a bomb can beat you..
    frustrating for a broncos fan….but still a great, great fun game to watch…

  119. jp4120 says: Jan 13, 2013 8:42 AM

    Also love the way the packers fat coach punted from the 50 down 14 points with 8 minutes to go….when your defense couldn’t stop the niners all day…..smart coaches go for it there….its your only chance….

  120. charman11 says: Jan 13, 2013 8:49 AM

    Not a fan of either team, but I thought Denver not going for a first down, let Manning throw for a first down when it was 3rd and 7. They decided to run up the middle and to punt and give the Ravens the ball with 1.09 left. I said why would they not try for a first down you have Manning you paid for Manning this is why you did just that and you run. LOL I love it though, Elway LOL. I said watch the Ravens make them pay for that and they sure did. Then to take a knee with 31 sec in regulation with 2 timeouts left haha why go to all the trouble to get Manning and then not let him earn his pay, no trust in him I guess. That’s just crazy, they deserved to lose.

  121. skinsgal4life says: Jan 13, 2013 8:49 AM

    Kap was incredible. He’s quite a bit bigger than RG3, so he can probably take hits better since he runs often. Nonetheless, I’d hate to see Kap get hurt like RG3 did last week. At this point, I’m rooting for the ’49ers. I don’t like Pete Carroll, and Kap is an amazing talent.

  122. lostsok says: Jan 13, 2013 8:49 AM

    Couldn’t agree more on the pass interference points.

  123. harrisonhits2 says: Jan 13, 2013 8:51 AM

    “Manning throwing an awful interception at the worst possible time? Crazy.”

    Crazy ? You haven’t watched Manning in many playoff games have you ?

    He’s thrown numerous bad interceptions during the playoffs and its one of the main reasons his playoff record is so bad.

  124. RexCanCoach says: Jan 13, 2013 8:51 AM

    Beat the Patriots, (yes they are going to win today) next weekend Ravens and then yes, you will be taken seriously.

    Come up short in the AFC title game and well, you’re basically the Jets.

  125. brownterry13 says: Jan 13, 2013 8:52 AM

    If the Texans win today every super bowl quarterback would be eliminated.

  126. ranmcmahon says: Jan 13, 2013 9:05 AM

    Agree that having all-star ref crews is not a good idea. Also, I think having a relatively new referee Vinovich also didn’t help. The old-school referees (and yes the Hochulis of the world have their issues), I think, let the players play a little bit more in the playoffs and don’t make “bail out” calls as much. I may be dead wrong but even though it isn’t their regular crew, I’m guessing a guy like Hochuli might tell the guys, “don’t throw your flag every other play and start making us the story.”

    DPI is a joke I agree. 15 yards instead of spot of the foul would be an improvement. Tired of seeing it botched/inconsistent–Groundhog Day.

  127. Bob says: Jan 13, 2013 9:06 AM

    “I’ve never watched a couple of games so crazy in my life. ”

    What’s crazy about Peyton Manning choking in the playoffs?

  128. pixelito says: Jan 13, 2013 9:06 AM

    Poor tackling, no tackling, not even trying to tackle, pitiful special teams, poor coverage, broken coverage.

    GREAT DAY TO BE A COLLEGE FOOTBALL FAN!

  129. zhongal says: Jan 13, 2013 9:12 AM

    Manning play enough for the win. He is the most unlucky qb in playoff history. The last second lost to jets in 2010 with kick return, didn’t get a tie with last missing field goal in 2006 to steeler, and last night.

    Remember how pool Brady played against Raven and still won?

    That being said, go Ravens.

  130. thefiesty1 says: Jan 13, 2013 9:16 AM

    Harbaugh brothers in the SB. Yes!

  131. ahsinnyc says: Jan 13, 2013 9:20 AM

    Not if your wife hates football.

  132. packattack1967 says: Jan 13, 2013 9:20 AM

    Colin Kaepernick is fad that defensive coordinators will catch up with (probably this week). Jim Harbaugh will be the Mouse Davis of his generation.

  133. giantsfanlewis says: Jan 13, 2013 9:22 AM

    Hamcamnewton

    You would have a point if the NFL didn’t make it a rule that officials can not help the raiders in any way shape or form. Cam is still just a giant baby.

  134. pinion8ted says: Jan 13, 2013 9:30 AM

    The officiating indeed sucked yesterday, but neither losers (Donks/Packers) has anyone to blame but themselves.

    While they clearly were victimized by bad calls, the Broncos clearly had the chance to win, and failed. The Packers defense was finished by halftime, and Rodgers didn’t stand a chance after that, the Niner’s offense kept out-pacing the packer’s offense.

    Give credit to the never-say-die Ravens, and the we’re for-real 49’ers. I don’t know where this Niner’s team was a couple weeks ago against Seattle, but they played some mad football last night!

  135. pinion8ted says: Jan 13, 2013 9:34 AM

    RexCanCoach says:Jan 13, 2013 8:51 AM

    Come up short in the AFC title game and well, you’re basically the Jets.
    ———————————————————
    This is why Jets fans are viewed as total tools.

    The Jets haven’t played a game like last night’s since 1969.

    Even if the Ravens lose next week, against either team, the heart and talent they showed last night is something you Jets fans haven’t seen from mark Sanchez and that three ring circus that Rex Ryan is the ringleader of, EVER. I would still hold the Ravens up as a solid football team that your 6-10 losers should never step on the same field with.

  136. mungman69 says: Jan 13, 2013 9:35 AM

    Will today’s games be as entertaining as yesterdays?

  137. crp63 says: Jan 13, 2013 9:36 AM

    jbaxt says: Jan 13, 2013 12:00 AM

    So, Alex Smith can be had for a 3rd rounder now? He’s clearly not SF’s starter, and your young guys running circles around him. Stop playing so well Kapernick, you’re devaluing Smith.

    Nobody is going to surrender any pick for Smith…everbody knows he has got no future with the 49ers whatsoever…

  138. mooseknuckle says: Jan 13, 2013 9:36 AM

    Cheese puffs lost. Woohoo! Hey Ted, please sign Dom to a 10 year extension.

  139. pinion8ted says: Jan 13, 2013 9:37 AM

    deep64blue says:Jan 13, 2013 5:11 AM

    Tuck rule wasn’t abolished, Manning had tucked the ball back in before losing it.
    ———————————————————
    It was about the fifth replay that I also realized this.

    They got that one right, amazingly enough.

  140. raiders757 says: Jan 13, 2013 9:49 AM

    The icing on the cake would be seeing that smug diva Tom Brady walking off the field in defeat this afternoon.

    Here’s to hoping the Texans bury that chumps face into the sod today. Brady must go down, and he must go down hard. Go Texans!!

  141. beastmode5150 says: Jan 13, 2013 9:59 AM

    WHAT HAPPENED TO DEFENSE IN THE NFL??????
    ——————
    You must have never seen a Seahawks game. Averaged 15 PTS per game allowed with the hardest schedule in the NFL.

  142. rjmcoltsfan says: Jan 13, 2013 10:20 AM

    Thank you PFT for noting the horendous officiating. I thought I was the only one who thought it was ridiculous and didn’t hear much on the post game shows about the officials. You are so right about the lack of consistency in the calls. Everyone talked about Peyton’s bad throw and the (yes, it was horrible) defensive plays by the Broncos but didn’t hear a thing about the number of calls that went against the Broncos.

  143. dhudge says: Jan 13, 2013 10:44 AM

    I love how chose to focus ONLY on the questionable officiating that went against the Broncos. There WERE just as many bad calls against the Ravens.

  144. killitandeatit says: Jan 13, 2013 11:11 AM

    Alex Smith will be a great Q.B. for the right team. He has an impressive resume and got S.F.to within a muffed punt to the Super Bowl last year. His body of work, this season, allowed Kap to come in mid season very healthy and not banged up. Thank-you Alex for all you have done for the 49ers. I hope he can stay as a competent back up to a running C.K.who could easily get injured but I see him being a starter for a long list of teams.

  145. silverhornet says: Jan 13, 2013 11:22 AM

    Great games indeed… however today’s games on the other hand will be snoozers. They just can’t live up to what happened yesterday. Sea/Atl will be low scoring and boring. NE will romp over the Texans.

  146. joestemme says: Jan 13, 2013 11:46 AM

    Agree about the odd Tuck rule interpretation. Too bad it wasn’t a Fox game – would have been interesting to hear Mike Pereira’s take.

    If Romo or Favre had thrown that fatal pick that Manning did, can u imagine the grief they would have taken?

    And, this game shows how Rodgers and the Packers are classic front-runners. For a Super Bowl contender, they have a pretty poor 4th quarter come-back record. Look it up if you don’t believe me…..

  147. ron69 says: Jan 13, 2013 12:27 PM

    The game continues to get better and better because the new talent coming last few years are taking over the league, last 2 drafts are performing in a level i had never seen before and i have 38 years of watching football.

  148. footballchic777 says: Jan 13, 2013 12:43 PM

    I totally agree about the officiating. Both the Broncos and the Ravens played well, but the officiating was horrendous, and one sided. It truly helped in deciding the outcome of the game and that should NEVER HAPPEN! But there was no call as bad as giving up time on the clock and possible points when you have your timeouts, and just handing the game over. This drove my husband and I insane, and in the end, it probably cost them.

  149. mbart94 says: Jan 13, 2013 12:53 PM

    Please god have mercy on football fans and save us from another Patriots Baltimoron AFC championship or worse yet a 49ers vs baltimoron or New England Super Bowl…Go hawks or falcons and Texans

  150. mbart94 says: Jan 13, 2013 12:56 PM

    I totally agree about the officiating. Both the Broncos and the Ravens played well, but the officiating was horrendous, and one sided. It truly helped in deciding the outcome of the game and that should NEVER HAPPEN! But there was no call as bad as giving up time on the clock and possible points when you have your timeouts, and just handing the game over. This drove my husband and I insane, and in the end, it probably cost them.
    —————————————
    The convicts in Purple threatened the refs obviously. Denvers D was awful though, so many offsides and couldn’t get off the field against a pathetic offense.

  151. jomochiefsfan84 says: Jan 13, 2013 1:06 PM

    Great day for football yesterday but if you broncos fans could please just quit making up excuses on why your team lost & bringing up the pass interference calls. Take the loss move on look forward to next yr & if I remember right I’m pretty sure your crappy kicker Matt Prater missed a chip shot FG that would have won the game Congrats Baltimore Ravens signed by a sincerely happy chiefs fan!

  152. vikingshavefoursuperbowlappearancesandarethebest says: Jan 13, 2013 1:16 PM

    We beat Green Bay – I don’t even care if we win a SB now!

  153. acovey10 says: Jan 13, 2013 2:39 PM

    I was sitting section 118 at the Broncos game, and let me tell you last year at the Pittsburgh game I thought to myself “I’ll never see a better game”. I was wrong, this years divisional was an insanely awesome duel in the high tundra, BUT I was one SAD fan walking out. A great day to be a fan in the NFL, but a horrible day for broncos fans…least this article cheers me up.

  154. raven4life21 says: Jan 13, 2013 2:46 PM

    Don’t discount such a great end to the Ray Lewis/Peyton Manning rivalry by complaining about the refs… Yes many calls were questionable and prob even wrong… But I also saw a blatant block in the back on atleast one of those run back TDs as well by Denver that was never called and holding on a few other plays… This will go down as one of the best hard fought matches of all time… Hats off to both teams who also played with a heat index of -3 degrees… I am honored to have experienced it… I said at halftime win or lose this game is gonna be epic and will be a fight to the finish… I love FOOTBALL!

  155. cometkazie says: Jan 13, 2013 3:09 PM

    Has there been any explanation yet how it’s OK for a kicker to run on the field during a time out and take practice kicks?

    It was mentioned in a couple of posts but no explanation.

  156. jody46 says: Jan 13, 2013 4:14 PM

    why do people always think oh he is a kicker. Like he is the worst position on the team. Like they don’t mean much at all. I hate when they act that way. How many games do these who care kickers win the games for their team and especiallly right at the end of the game. They don’t get enough credit at all. their own teams don’t think kickers are a big deal, they can score pts. just like a qb, wr, te, cb, rb can. unless there is a fumble no one else can score.

  157. myosin10 says: Jan 13, 2013 4:31 PM

    I hope we can keep Smith you need a good backup QB. Although I don’t see that happening, he is gonna want too much money and some team will pick him up.

    Is it just me or did the NFL day get much better now that Seattle lost?

  158. johninthewest says: Jan 14, 2013 2:57 AM

    Denver and the refs beat Denver. They are a way better team than the Ravens… The entire league and fans know this. Half the nation will now end up turning the channel off by the end of the first half between the Pats and Ravens. Ravens and their fans will be back to square 1 after next weeks game.

  159. homelessmole says: Jan 14, 2013 5:04 AM

    Absolutely agree about the PI calls. I’ve never seen a team benefit so much from PI calls throughout the course of a season as Baltimore did.

  160. marniblitz says: Jan 14, 2013 3:12 PM

    Lifelong Denver fan= the hardest loss in recent memory. We were outplayed pure and simple. Three strikes: 1) Abysmal defensive play 2)Manning’s 3 turnovers which all led to scores 3) Conservative play-calling. I hear Denver fans griping about the game, but do you really expect to win a playoff game without playing well?

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