If the NFL needed to prove it, Sunday night was why The Shield is the No. 1 reality show on the planet. But, as it pertains to the Vikings, the entire postseason is going to make for a lot of angry teams from the NFC heading into the 2015 season with a sour taste in their mouths.
To start with, if you know you’re NFL history, the Patriots shouldn’t have been in the Super Bowl, much less win it thanks to a coach eschewing the obvious and not giving the ball to a man known as Beast Mode when you need two feet of real estate to repeat as champions – on second down! New England should have been greased in its postseason opener. They trailed Baltimore twice by 14 points and came all the way back to win the game.
But, in the NFC the legitimately angry teams ran throughout all four weeks of the playoffs.
It started back in the wild card round and its impact on the remainder of the playoffs just grew with each successive week like a series of dominoes turning into an avalanche of “what if” moments.
Back in Wild Card weekend, Detroit led Dallas 20-17 with nine minutes to play when it appeared as though the Cowboys were going to get hit with a clear pass interference penalty – so clear that the official closest to the play threw his flag. It was picked up. The Twitter universe went nuts. Players and fans alike tweeted their amazement – from Barry Sanders on down – claiming they had never seen a flag picked up on such a blatant, clearly evident play.
The Lions got eliminated.
Their players felt they got jobbed and are coming into 2015 with a chip on their shoulder.
Instead of Detroit advancing, the Cowboys did. That was just the beginning.
As Dallas advanced to play Green Bay, they came in as a prohibitive underdog. They gave Green Bay everything it could handle and, in the end, were trailing by five points late in the game and Tony Romo and Dez Bryant did what they do.
Romo completed a pass to Bryant, who, on the basis of visual evidence caught a pass near the goal line, took two steps – what most would consider a “football move” – and reached out the ball toward the end zone as he always does. After all, the ground can’t cause a fumble.
Yet, in this case, the Calvin Johnson Rule was somehow applied and the play was called an incompletion and Green Bay was able to run out the clock.
Jerry Jones, his rotund serial-hugging friend Chris Christie and the Cowboys got jobbed.
Instead of Dallas advancing, Green Bay did. Cowboys players felt they got jobbed and are coming into 2015 with their own chip on their shoulder.
The Packers went to Seattle looking to shock the world and, for almost the entire game, they did. Armed with a 12-point lead with a little over two minutes to play, the Packers blew a lead in epic proportions. They didn’t need any referee help to shoot themselves in the foot. They supplied their own ammunition.
It took an unlikely series of events to all pile one upon the next to prevent the Packers from going to the Super Bowl. They happened. As improbable as their collapse was – from the point Julius Peppers told Morgan Burnett to get down to the ground rather than try to return an interception with five minutes to play with a 12-point lead and Richard Sherman crippled until Aaron Rodgers watched his Super Bowl dream vanish in overtime without touching the ball.
It seemed only fitting that the 2014 season would end on the first day of the second month of 2015 with an NFC team that lost the Super Bowl when everything pointed to a victory. Pete Carroll will forever be remembered for not giving the ball to a hard-yardage running back like Marshawn Lunch. After all, when you’re nickname is Beast Mode, fans wouldn’t be as upset if Carroll took two shots from two feet out and the Patriots made a defensive stand for the ages.
Instead, they told Lynch to go out as a receiver and Russell Wilson threw a pick.
Somewhere, Scott Norwood sighed and said, “Finally!” – much like Bill Buckner got replaced by Steve Bartman.
The Patriots win cemented Tom Brady’s place in the argument of best quarterback ever. He won his fourth title – 10 years removed from his last. But history may well remember the Carroll Call more than New England’s win.
Considering how playoff games involving NFC teams were upset about the final outcome, there are going to be a lot of angry teams heading into next season – including elite teams.
The 2014 season is finally over, but there is a big “To Be Continued” on the horizon.
NFC has angry postseason teams
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