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Sports Medley: 2016 NFL Playoffs Round 2 11 Jan 15

by Tony Medley

Last Week: I picked 3 out of 4 winners. But Cincinnati should have beaten Pittsburgh and Minnesota should have beaten Seattle. I still would have been 3 out of 4, but thatís the way it goes.

New England over Kansas City: The Patriots have had so many injuries they are basically held together by bailing wire and chewing gum. But they have talent and Tom Brady. The week off allowed them much needed recuperation time. The Chiefs are steady, have a very good defense and a plodding offense that doesnít make a lot of mistakes. New Englandís defense is too good for them and Iím going with Brady, who will be helped by the return of receiver Julian Edelman.

Arizona over Green Bay: Green Bay played its best game of the year against Washington, but the Redskins did not beat one team this year with a winning record. Iím not thrilled with Arizona quarterback Carson Palmer, but their defense and entire roster are better than Green Bay.

Seattle over Carolina: Carolina had the weakest schedule one could imagine, only beating one good team, Seattle, and that after trailing by two scores with only a few minutes left in the game. Seattle was in the toughest division in the NFL and had a brutal schedule. Despite a less than impressive showing last week in which they looked as if they werenít there (forced to call time out four times to avoid delay of game penalties!). Thatís hard to believe in a playoff game. But they lucked out when Minnesota missed a field goal shorter than a conversion on the last play of the game. I still think they are the best team in football, even without star running back Marshawn Lynch (actually, Seattleís record is better this year with Lynch not in the lineup). This is the best game in the playoffs, and pairs the two best teams in the NFL.

Denver over Pittsburgh: Like Kansas City in ďOklahomaĒ the Steelers have gone about as fur as they can go, especially if Ben Roethlisberger is injured and Antonio Brown canít pass the concussion protocol, regardless of who plays quarterback for Denver. Denverís defense will get them through. And they always have the high altitude on their side because they are acclimated to it.

When you swim with sharks, you might get bitten: The Bengalsí loss to the Steelers was due in large part to vicious, stupid, selfish plays by Bengalsí Vontaze Burfict and Pacman Jones resulting in penalties that cost them the game. Cincy had the game won until Burfict almost decapitated Steelers star wide receiver Antonio Brown after Ben Roethlisbergerís pass went incomplete, way over Brownís head. All the other NFL teams passed on Burfict in the draft because of his history as a violent person. But the Bengals drafted him. Heís the one who put Steeler running back LeíVeon Bell out for the year, and whoís sack of Ben a few plays earlier put him out of the game (I thought it was intentional even before I saw a video of Burfict giving Ben a knee in the shoulder after the play ended). His hit on Brown put Brown in concussion protocol and could have killed him. Burfict should be suspended for at least a year, if not for life, but donít hold your breath. If the league doesnít take action, the Bengals should because it cost them a place in the second round.

But thatís not all to criticize in this game. A second 15 yard penalty was called on Pacman Jones for, apparently, either confronting the Steelerís linebacker coach Joey Porter or bumping a ref, who immediately threw another flag. Not to diminish the selfishness and stupidity of Jones, if a flag were to be thrown it should have been against the Steelers for illegally having a coach on the field abusing opponents, but the ref put it on Jones and the Steelers had gained 30 yards putting them in position for the game winning field goal. This is gross incompetence by the officiating crew. Hereís what NFL Rule 13.1.2 says:

"Either or both team attendants and their helpers may enter the field to attend their team during a team timeout by either team. No other non-player may come on the field without the Referee's permission, unless he is an incoming substitute (5-2-2).

During any team timeout, all playing rules continue in force. Representatives of either team are prohibited from entering the field unless they are incoming substitutes, or team attendants or trainers entering to provide for the welfare of a player, and any game-type activities are prohibited on the Field of Play."

Head coaches arenít allowed on the field, much less an assistant. Pittsburgh should have been given a 15 yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. So the NFL officials screwed up again! Itís not surprising that these officious NFL referees would decide a playoff game with an egotistical, illegal penalty; theyíve been doing it all year. This crew, headed by Referee John Parry, let this game get out of hand, just as it did in the previous meeting between the two teams and then overreacted and decided the game. The correct ruling was to penalize Pittsburgh, putting the ball back where it was before the penalty on Burfict.

Even if rule 13.1.2 didnít exist, with the game on the line, the referees should not have been so quick with the flag. To give a team 30 penalty yards on one play in the last seconds of a game when the opponent was out of field goal range at the beginning is intolerable. Had the correct penalty been called on the Steelers they would have been back where they started and the Bengals would have won. Parry and his crew should be suspended or fired. But, as Iíve said many times before, donít hold your breath.