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Collapse of the Offense?

In both conference championship games, we saw stellar defense. All four teams scoring between 17-23 points. You would think from hearing the scores, that the two teams with the best defense won, and you would be wrong.

The result was actually the opposite, the teams with the better defenses lost, and the teams with the better offenses won. So why then do the scores look like such a defensive game if the offenses performed? That is because the offenses didn’t perform. Sure there were passes 70+ yards, sure there were hard-earned rushing touchdowns, sure there were field goals, a lot of field goals, but the offenses were either stagnant, or the defenses were incredible.

No team in the conference championships round of the playoffs this year managed to score three touchdowns, that accounts for all touchdowns scored, offensive, defensive, and special teams. The defense on all four teams played great football, keeping the opposing offense from running up the score and essentially running away with the game.

The two better offenses in the conference championships round faced arguably the two best defenses in the entire league. With Tom Brady throwing for no touchdowns, and the Giants offense playing like normal minus some big plays, how could two teams that played fairly decent on the offensive side of the ball, win their games in the conference championships round? Maybe we need to go into greater detail, this just isn’t making any sense.

The Ravens played the Patriots in the first game of the conference championships round. The Ravens have one of the best defenses in the league every year, so it was no surprise that their defense played such a strong game on Sunday. The Ravens offense averaged 23 points points a game in the regular season, and so despite the Patriots defense playing well or not, the Ravens offense played like they normally do. The Patriots defense to their credit played a better game than in the past this season. The Patriots offense however was lacking from their main component, Tom Brady, the same Tom Brady who does most of the Patriots scoring. Although Tom Brady threw for no touchdowns on Sunday, he did rush for one touchdown, and a Patriots offense which relies heavily on Tom Brady to score by throwing the ball, managed to beat one of the best defenses in the league, and the Ravens defense played one heck of a game. Joe Flacco threw for the Ravens’ only two touchdowns, totaling 35 yards on the two passes. The Patriots won 23-20.

The Giants played the 49ers in the second game of the conference championships round. The Giants defense has played much better in the playoffs and although playing a good game on Sunday it would be hard to place their defense in the top 10 overall this year even at this point, with the Giants going to the Super Bowl, and after considering the great run they had at the end of the season, including their playoff performances, which have not been lacking on the defensive side of the ball. The Giants offense only averages 24 points a game, carried by their passing and weighed down by their rushing. The 49ers defense was in the top this season, continuing into the playoffs. The 49ers offense was ranked 26th, despite their rushing attack totaling just over 2000 yards in the regular season. Alex Smith for the 49ers threw two touchdown passes, one for over 70 yards. Eli Manning also threw for two touchdown passes, one to Mario Manningham, his only catch on the day, and another to Bear Pascoe, his only catch on the day, combining for 23 yards on the two passes. The Giants won 20-17.

Clearly these two games were among the greatest defensive struggles we have seen in the playoffs. So if these were defensive games, and both offenses of both teams were playing at almost equal levels, how did the lesser of the two defenses in both games, win? This is one of those times where I will just accept defeat, as I clearly don’t have enough time on my hands to figure this one out. The couple big time mistakes aside, these were very efficient games played by all four teams.

The Super Bowl is two weeks from last Sunday, the conference championships round. It is going to be interesting to watch what the New York Giants and the New England Patriots can do on the offensive side of the ball, especially since the defense played by both teams all year hasn’t exactly been the best.

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