A Rabbit Punch has two meanings, both of which describe the nature of the article. 1. A series of fast punches. 2. An illegal punch to the back of the head between the skull and the first vertebrate that can cause permanent damage to the nerves or death.
One game left. Two games to make jokes about in the books from this weekend. This can only mean one thing for Rabbit Punches; just like Bernard Pollard and Stevan Ridley, it is crunch time.
The first game of the Conference Championship double-header proved to be the more exciting one. The San Francisco 49ers erased a 17 point Atlanta Falcon lead to squeeze out a four point win. For the second week in a row, the Falcons allowed their opponent to make huge comebacks in their cumulative tryout for a spot on the Washington Generals. Although Matt Ryan was able to set the single game playoff record for passing yards with 396, but the Falcons were shut out in the second half costing them the game. As always, I refuse to believe that the nickname Matty Ice come from having ice in his veins, which he proved once again he has none. However, the nickname Matty Ice still stands, because just like the real origin of his nickname, the popular college beer choice Natty Ice, the first half is smooth but as it warms up, the second half can be difficult to swallow.
On the other side of the ball, Colin Kaepernick continued his stellar play beating the Falcons through the air, running the ball only two times. Instead, Frank Gore and LaMichael James finished the job on the ground combining for three rushing touchdowns proving that the 49ers’ ground attack is more versatile than a Christopher Nolan designed Batmobile. In the previous weeks, Michael Crabtree emerged at Kaepernick’s favorite target, which did not go unnoticed by the Falcons who tried to take that option away. The result, Kaepernick hooked up with Vernon Davis five times for 106 yards. VD had caught just five passes in the last five games with Kaepernick at QB. This outburst of production makes Kaepernick the happiest person of all time to experience extend exposure to VD.
Tony Gonzalez made it clear that this was to be his last season if the Falcons won the Super Bowl. With the Falcons loosing on Sunday, Gonzalez said that he will probably retire anyway. The future Hall of Famer failed to hoist the Lombardi Trophy in his career, but walks away with the consolation prize of leaving the game at the scariest time to retire in NFL history. Possible degenerative brain disease and crippling arthritis after 16 years in the grueling NFL must be easier to stomach when there is an over four-ounce Super Bowl ring stuck below your bulging knuckle.
Finally, looking forward to the Super Bowl, one story line continues to build steam. Struggling kicker, David Akers, clanged a field goal off of the left upright on Sunday. The miss marks the 14th failed field goal attempt by Akers this season. The Super Bowl often comes down to a field goal to win it, and the 49ers only have one kicker on the roster who’s confidence is obviously shaken. I would trust Akers to win the Super Bowl with one kick about as much as the Player’s Union trusts Roger Goodell to discipline the league unilaterally.
The latter half of the Conference Championships thrilled audiences as well but the finished lacked the drama of the first game. No lead feels safe when Tom Brady line up across from you, but the Baltimore Ravens shut out the New England Patriots in the second half to seal their spot in the Super Bowl. Watching Tom Brady not score for an entire half in the playoffs was like watching Two and a Half Men with Ashton Kutcher instead of Charlie Sheen. Neither option makes you happy but one just does not feel right.
The band plays on for Ray Lewis’ Swan Song. Lewis has the Ravens’ defense playing inspired taking his last hurrah all the way to the Super Bowl. With one last game in his career, Lewis will either ride off into the sunset a Super Bowl hero, or just like Tony Gonzalez, he will have to spend some time in retirement getting a bitter taste out of his mouth. No matter how this amazing Ray Lewis story ends, I bet no one will accuse him of being a murder on Twitter.
Joe Flacco seems doomed like Sisyphus to push a boulder up the hill of elite quarterbacks. In this playoffs, Flacco has thrown eight touchdowns and zero interceptions on his way to a record six career playoff road wins, but he still needs one more win to claim he is an elite QB. Flacco needs one more win to be an elite QB, because you have to have a Super Bowl ring to be elite, like Brad Johnson, Ken Stabler, Jeff Hostetler, and Trent Dilfer.
Bernard Pollard struck again when he knocked out Stevan Ridley forcing a fumble. Pollard has caused so much pain to the New England area that his new nickname should be “Magic Johnson.” Or “Small Pox.”
Pollard known in large part of his role in the creating of the ‘Brady Rule,’ criticized Tom Brady for sliding cleats up into Ed Reed. Pollard believes Brady should be fined for this move generally seen as unsportsman-like in baseball more so than football. Pollard also thinks Brady should be fined for checking his goalie, fouling a player with a clean path to the hoop, and talking during his back swing.
But in all seriousness, I think seeing Brady get fined for the cleats up slide would be better than crack for Jerome Harrison. Sliding cleats up can be very dangerous, just ask Danny Glover in Angels in the Outfield.
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Remember to stretch.