Cave Man ( Or Man Cave ) Football

January 23

Super Bowl 45 will definitely be old school. The Packers will play for the trophy named after their old coach, while the Steelers are almost ready to get a time-share in the championship, making their eighth visit. That’s the result after Championship Sunday, six hours of Cave Man Football, watched by many in Man-Caves.

The Packers made the Super Bowl with the unexpected. One of the biggest plays of the game was made by Aaron Rodgers, but it wasn’t a pass. It was a tackle of Brian Urlacher after Rodgers threw a pick near the goal line.

The winning touchdown was unexpected as well. It was scored by “The Freezer,” appropriate with Chicago temperatures in the teens. B.J. Raji picked off Bears third-string quarterback Caleb Hanie and carried his “337” pounds to the end zone.

Raji almost went all Leon Lett on us, as he stuck the ball out victoriously ten yards away from the end zone. He had barely crossed the goal line when Hanie batted the ball out of his hand.

Hanie didn’t expect Raji on that play, either. Raji sat back in coverage in a zone blitz and snagged Hanie’s short throw.

Raji was also a decoy on Rodgers’ first quarter touchdown run that made it 7-0 Packers. The Pack like to bring him in as an eligible fullback to block on running plays. That caused the Bears defense to overload on his side, and Rodgers was able to run left to the pylon.

The game shouldn’t have been this close. After Raji’s score to make it 21-7 late in the fourth quarter, the Packers defense let up and allowed the Bears to score in a little over a minute on a Hanie to Earl Bennett pass. Also, the Packers failed to convert on several third down-and-short situations, and Rodgers’ red zone pick cost the Pack at least three points.

But Rodgers saved seven. The former Cal Bear from Chico was not at his best, but his hustle was a difference-maker.

On the flip side, much of Chicago and many fellow NFL players questioned why Bears starting quarterback Jay Cutler left the game with a knee injury, yet was able to stand on the sideline the rest of the game. Coach Lovie Smith snapped at reporters when asked about it after the game.

It might also be fair to ask why the Bears ever signed the inept Todd Collins as Cutler’s backup. He was done after one series, and the inexperienced Hanie played well except for the fateful Raji pick six.

The Steelers won the AFC title because the Jets forgot to show up in the first half, falling behind 24-0. The Jets woke up in the second half but it was too late, losing 24-19.

The Steelers, after losing their fine rookie center Marquis Pouncey, lost their groove on offense in the second half. That is, until the final possession, when they snatched the Lamar Hunt trophy instead of waiting for it to be given to them.

What do I mean ? Everyone including Jim Nantz and Phil Simms anticipated the Steelers would run the ball on third down at midfield with less than two minutes to go. They would presumably let the clock roll down to a minute, and punt the ball deep so the Jets would have to drive the entire field with little time and no timeouts.

That’s what Mike Singletary would have done. That’s what Mike Nolan would have done. That’s not what Mike Tomlin and the Steelers did.

Ben Roethlisberger rolled out and completed a pass to a diving Antonio Brown ( who has had a couple of huge plays in the postseason ) for a clinching first down. Jets coach Rex Ryan slammed down his headphones, game over.

I loved the play call. If Roethlisberger was sacked the clock would still run. If the pass was incomplete the Steelers could still punt deep and the Jets would have a long way to go with no timeouts. But the reward was much greater than the risk.

Roethlisberger started the season with a four-game suspension for being a bad character off the field. Maybe a dose of humility helped him grow up a little bit. It would be inaccurate to call this “redemption” but maybe he’s making the most of his second ( or third ) chance.

Ryan vowed the Jets would be back, and he may be right, but CBS sideline reporter Steve Tasker must know something we don’t. He congratulated Ryan on a “bright future.”

Right now, it’s Packers-Steelers in the Super Bowl. Now let’s go get a bleeping snack.

***

Jack LaLanne’s snack would include something from his juicer, or vegetables and whole grain bread. He was an inspiration to millions.

I had a chance to meet this delightful man about 20 years ago, when he visited our radio station at the very spry age of 76. I was less than half his age, yet had half his energy.

He used to joke that he couldn’t die because it would ruin his image, but even he couldn’t stop time. Jack, an Oakland native, died Sunday at the age of 96.

I’m gonna do some push-ups for you, Jack. As soon as I get off my ass from watching all this football.

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2 Responses to “Cave Man ( Or Man Cave ) Football”

  1. Jim Says:

    OMG; Jack Lalanne just died;

    I think what it shows me Ray is that the NFL is at it’s worst level of QB play in the last 40 years.

    Cutler is unwatchable at times and the Jets passing game is so simple and safe even though they have done well in the playoffs.

    The Jets finally found a team that could run against them and that was a huge thing in this game.

    There are very few elite QB’s in the NFL anymore.

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