Grudge matches are the theme in this weekend’s NFL playoff matchups, as all four contests pit teams that played each other at least once in the regular season. Enough of the ESPN bottom line telling us about some lame smack talk by Antonio “Happy Father’s Day” Cromartie, let’s get to the games already…
Baltimore Ravens at Pittsburgh Steelers
First (and second) Time Around: Baltimore took down the Steelers in Pittsburgh, but that was in week four with Big Ben stuck in Roger Goodell’s after-school detention. The Steelers led 14-10 in the final miute, but Joe Flacco hit TJ Houshmandzadeh for the game-winner with 32 seconds left..
Four weeks ago the teams met again, with Troy Polamalu forcing a late-game fumble that sparked the go-ahead TD with three minutes left. The 13-10 victory was Roethlisberger’s sixth strait over the Ravens when he starts.
Trivia Lesson: Joe Flacco is the first QB to start and win a playoff game in each of his first three seasons…Ed Reed’s mad ballhawking skills haven’t done him much good against Big Ben, as Reed has just one pick in nine career contests.
Green Bay Packers at Atlanta Falcons
First Time Around: ATL got a game-winning 47-yard field goal with just nine seconds left to take down the Pack 20-17 in late November. The kick came just 47 seconds after A-Rodg had led a 90-yard drive to tie the game.
Trivia Lesson: After only running for 101 yards during the regular season, Green Bay RB James Starks put up 123 in Philly last Sunday… A playoff game in Atlanta hasn’t happened since the 2004 campaign… Green Bay’s playoff victory over the Eagles last week was the first led by someone not named Favre since 1983.
Seattle Seahawks at Chicago Bears
First Time Around: Seattle sacked Jay Cutler six times in Chicago as the ‘Hawks pulled out a 23-20 W. The Bears went 0-for-12 on third downs, but were still within three points late thanks Devin Hester taking a punt to the house in the fourth quarter.
Trivia Lesson: The Seahawks have not won a road playoff game since the Reagan administration… These two teams dueled in an over time playoff game just seven years ago… After forgetting what a running play was over the first half of the season, Chicago has rushed for 100+ yards in eight of their last nine.
New York Jets at New England Patriots
First (and second) Time Around: Back when Randy Moss played for the Pats, New York put it to New England, 28-14. The Jets used three Patriots turnovers to seal the week two victory.
That 14-point spread was nothing compared to the beat down New England laid in Foxborough last month. Brady threw four TDs to lead the Pats to a 45-3 win that forced Rex Ryan into an eating binge.
Trivia Lesson: Want to see a balanced rivalry? This one shows 51 wins for each side, including a tie for good measure… Since somehow getting drilled by the Browns on Nov. 7, the Patriots have won eight strait. New England is killin’ fools during that span, winning by an average of over three TDs.
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