Sunday, January 13, 2013

Margarita Blogging the NFC Playoffs: 2013 Edition

As threatened promised, I am going to liveblog the playoff game between the Falcons and Seahawks. As has been the case the last few seasons, the Falcons are in the position of both having no chance against their opponent and being labelled chokers when they are upset.

I often think that the life of a sports journalist must be one of the easiest vocations in the world. You get to say contradictory things and rewrite history at a whim. For example, when talking about the 2012 edition of the Atlanta Falcons, nearly every sports pundit outside of Jimmy Johnson (and he's probably just hopped up on Cialis or whatever) spent nearly each week applying the following formula:

1. Declaring  that the Falcons are finally going to be tested against an opponent, giving them their chance to legitimize their lofty record.

2. Picking Atlanta to lose.

3. Deciding that--after Atlanta beat them handlily--the opponent isn't really that great.

4. Proposing to Peyton Manning.

This was the pattern against San Diego (and it turns out the Chargers had just decided to suck all season instead of just the first half), Denver, Philadelphia (Andy Reid cannot be defeated after a bye week!), Tampa Bay, New Orleans, and the Giants. Atlanta killed all of those teams (including Denver--seriously, they dominated that game top to bottom except for a nine minute stretch across the 3rd and 4th quarters). The Giants game was so bad that everyone retroactively declared that New York had always been at war with Oceania.

So, I fully  expect that either Atlanta will win today, at which point sports pundits all over the globe will claim that Seattle never had a football team at all or Seattle will win and the Falcons will become "chokers" again for being upset by a team that is universally acclaimed as better in every phase of the game.

Either way I will be drunk on margaritas.


11:42: I just had text conversation with my brother:

Him: here we go.
Me: i'm already drinking and blogging.
Him: i've been drinking since 11:00. tough matchup for us but i have faith.
Me: if we had faith we wouldn't need to drink.

11:51: Nervously reminding Donna that she has five minutes to finish up whatever quest she is on in Skyrim.

11:55: My first "offical" sip of margarita.

11:57: I just came up with a positive in Atlant's favor: Keith Brooking doesn't play for us anymore.

11:58: Brian Billick just said that Pete Carroll knows that Atlanta is 13-7 in the Georgia Dome over the last five seasons. I'm not positive but I don't think that's correct.

12:00: Completely forgot that they show the national anthem part of games in the playoffs. Not a bad rendition... short and to the point. Mike Smith looks constipated.

12:04: Same feeling I always have before a playoff game kickoff... Hope slipping away.

1st Quarter

12:06: I see the Seahwks brought in an ex-Packer to kick. We're doomed.

12:07: Okay, Turner. You're only good for 40 yards a game. Don't use em all up at once.

12:07: That's better.

12:11: Roddy White just tied the Atlanta postseason record for career receptions with 23. how sad. I mean, good job.

12:13: We have already scored more points than we did in the 2011 playoffs. Baby steps. Nice play on that end zone pass on 3rd down by whatshisname.

12:15: Now we get to see if Mike Nolan has really been saving his crazy shifting defenses for the playoffs, or if he has contracted Brian Van Gorder Disease, in which you hallucinate that your vanilla 4-3 defense is doing really well. It also makes you go into prevent mode any time you have more than a 1 point lead in the second half.

12:19: And the answer on the first drive is: crazy shifting defense. I like that they do that on purpose, unlike previous years where they genuinely didn't know what to do.

12:21: Football 101: It's where the ball goes out of bounds on a punt, not where it lands. Okay, we got 3-and-out and we got great field position. Clearly we need to put the pedal to the metal. If we don't get a touchdown here we will lose this game. I'm completely serious.

12:25: And we're done. What the hell was that?

12:27: And upon further review Tony Gonzales stopped running. Not Ryan's fault, but why do these thing always seem to happen to us?

12:29: That exact play worked against the Saints. Let the back go untouched through the line, pick up ten yards and then, just as he's thinking, "wow, Atlanta really can't play the run", poke it out of his arm. That's coaching, people.

12:35: Apparently Julio Jones is wearing a Seahawks backpack to this game.

12:37: Some guy named Coffman just made a ridiculous catch at the goalline. I follow the Falcons religiously and I've never heard of this  guy.

12:38: And on the next play Tony Gonzales makes up for it with an acrobatic touchdown catch. Keep it up kid and someday you could grow up to be Kevin Coffman.

12:40: Matt Bryant has eaten his Wheaties today.

12:45: And now Dominique Franks has infected Harry Douglas. CATCH THE PUNT

12:47: Jaquizz Rodgers just ran through a safety, who is now dead. Add another 40+ yards onto it. Apparently Marshawn Lynch made a mistake publishing the beast mode codes on his Twitter feed. Good TV timeout to give the grounds crew time to bury that safety.

2nd Quarter

12:50: I like that they're taking shots downfield, but at some point White or Jones need to make a play.

12:56: Donna asked me how to spell "Jacquizz".

12:57: The entire line stood up at the same time. I'm going to blame that false start on the center.

1:00: Those "labels out" commercials kill me. It's like they don't realize that their team would already be up by four touchdowns if they weren't drinking Bud Light.

1:03: Seriously, Nolan needs to dial up some pressure on Wilson, knock him on his ass some. He's got way too much time to stand there looking posteresque.

1:06: Here's your chance to completely kill them. 4th down.

1:06: Sweet merciful crap. Weird that they ran it up the middle on 3rd and 4th and Lynch didn't get to touch it. Using your main back as a decoy is a sign of desperation, Pete Carroll. You do realize you're playing the Falcons? In the playoffs?

1:11: Finally, White makes a big play. 47-yard bomb. Now, I know you like to talk but refrain. No, I guess you can't do that can you. The game ain't over.

1:15: It looks like Burger King has given up. "We've tried chicken fingers, chicken tenders, and chicken fries. Screw it. Here's some chicken NUGGETS."

1:17: Don't go vanilla on defense now.


1:20: I'm a little ashamed to admit that the first time I ever saw the 49'ers commercial where some guy is giving the pep talk to the team, I didn't realize that wasn't the real coach until Harbaugh showed up. Then I was like, "oh yeah, Jim Harbaugh is the coach of the 49er's." Not meant as a slight, I just completely forgot.

1:23: Vanilla, vanilla vanilla. When they do this I always assume that Mike Smith has made a call to tell Nolan what defense to call.

1:25: We dominate the whole game on defense, then go into this prevent crap. Damn you, Mike Smith. Damn you. Wanna bet that regardless of the score at halftime, we come out vanilla on defense in the second half?

1:28: I know I'm harping, but see, Mike Smith, what happens when you take a defense that is attacking, attacking, attacking and tell them to play off? They get confused.

1:30: 3rd down. Go after him.

1:30: See what happens when you attack on defense? Please learn this lesson before the second half Mike Smith. Let it sink in. See you after halftime.

3rd Quarter

1:44 Ah, the second half kickoff. Or as I like to call it, the calm before the Falcons blow a 20-point lead.

1:45 Brian Billick just claimed that the kids in the Punt Pass and Kick competition were better than the quarterbacks he had in Baltimore. Take that whoever use to quarterback the Ravens.

1:48: If you took that bet about the defense coming out vanilla, you owe. Pay up.

1:50: Okay, I guess rrreeeaaaalllllyyyy slow pressure is better than none.

1:52: No on on Seattle can catch the ball except Zach Miller. Let's not cover him. It's like Keith Brooking does still play in Atlanta.

1:52: Step one of Operation Blow 20-Point Lead: complete.

1:56: Now, for those of you who don't normally pay attention to the Falcons, this is where Mike Smith decides the time is right to run Turner up the middle over and over until we're 3-and-outed a few times and let the other team catch up.

2:01: And that's why Harry Douglas isn't a top-2 receiver on a team.

2:04: Tony Gonazales is a bad, bad man. I heard he used to be one of those circus guys who would take cannonballs in the gut. He got fired because he kept catching them.

2:07: That little shovel pass to Snelling is like finding a beer in the fridge back behind some lettuce; you forget it's there and then you look down in the playbook and go, "hey, a beer. I mean, that Snelling play!"

2:11: A 7+ minute 80-something yard drive that didn't end in a turnover or a field goal. We must get one of those a year, like a "you won 2nd place in a beauty contest" card. That was probably a pretty good place to use it.

2:13: Is Seattle's offensive line this good? We cannot get any pressure. We haven't even knocked him down much. Just once then need a safety blitz to blindside him and make him think about it. Or, you know, just keep not covering Zach Miller. Jesus.

2:15: Is it me or is this game going really fast? I mean, that's good and all for the Falcons at this point, but I've barely had drunk to get time.

4th Quarter


2:17: Really? I mean, it'd be cool as all hell if Macy was in the PP&K contest, but is the start of the 4th quarter really the time? I'd be all, "hey Macy, tell Chris Myers to hurry up. And bring me a beer on the way back." No really, those kids are great.

2:20: Apparently I'm not the only one drinking during the game. I'm seeing two of you, Brian Billick.

2:26: This is the drive that decides the game. The Falcons take 5 or 6 minutes off the clock and get anything, even a field goal, and I'll start to believe that it's possible they can win. Otherwise, I'm not stupid. I can recogize the universe maneuvering to rip my heart out when I see it.

2:28: If Michael Turner was "3 yards and a cloud of turf, if you will", we'd be okay with that. It's usually "0 yards and a thrown clipboard".

2:30: And here we go. Ryan just seems to have this blind spot some times, especially in the playoffs. I don't know what it is. Douglas looked wide open out of the snap for a short gain. Instead, let's throw it deep into double coverage. The really bad news is that this is the last pass Ryan will throw until we are losing with 1:30 to go. Mike Smith just called Dirk Koetter and said, "i want nothing but runs from here on out."

2:33: It's over. The Falcons could blow a 48 nothing lead in the 4th quarter. We are cursed, it seems.

2:34: Oh, hey look, there's still nobody responsible for covering Zach Miller.

2:38: Ryan's got the look. And by "the look", I mean he knows it's over.

2:40: Best play here is to throw it deep and let it get intercepted again.

2:41: I predict the final score will be 42-27, Seattle. Yes, I know there is only 7:00
minutes left.

2:43: I've always defended Matt Ryan against people who said he didn't have a strong arm or couldn't handle pressure. But I think this may be the game to end all that. He looks right now like he's petrified. You'd think with all the regular season comebacks he's had he'd be over it, but it seems like he can't handle playoff pressure.

2:45: 3rd and 10, pivotal point of the game. Seattle gets this first down. Book it.

2:46: Mike Smith apparently didn't get to poop at halftime either.

2:48: One thing I've always wondered about this whole player safety thing... why is it up to the league to be 100% responsible. There's a player's association. Couldn't all the teams get together and say, "no more chop blocks"?

2:50: I think Matt Ryan just peed a little.

2:52 Sorry, Atlanta. If NFL games were 48 minutes you'd be good enough.

2:53: I swear I just heard Mike Smith say, "let's let em get down the field then try to hold them to a field goal."

2:54: I'm not actually watching the game anymore. I mean, it's still on the TV and I can hear it, but I'm not watching it.

2:55: 2 minute warning. This is where Russell Wilson magically becomes Joe Montana, Brett Favre (without all the killer interceptions) and Tom Brady all rolled into one. It's only fair; this is Seattle's first chance to add to the Falcon's playoff woes, so they should probably do it in the most gut-wrenching way possible. Seriously: last year during the 24-2 Giants debacle I got tons of projects done. By halftime I had forgotten the Falcons even made the playoffs.

2:56: Brian Billick keeps saying "intermediate area". You know, if anyone on the Falcons staff would just turn on a TV they could probably make a killer defensive adjustment.

3:03: I may have to just stop watching the NFL. I'm not kidding. It's really takes a lot out of you to care so much about a team then watch them suck year after year. I've already taken this step with the Braves. I pay attention to them, but when they make the playoffs I only sort of pay attention. When they lose, I'm like, "eh." The Falcons for some reason I get excited about. This I think is the killer. Screw 'em. I'm going to go get really drunk and then wait for rugby season or something.

3:10: This changes nothing.

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