From www.latimes.com – Conventional wisdom flunked out.
The car door slammed on the rules of thumb.
All those sure things? Shams.
The opening weekend of the NFL playoffs might be best remembered for Sunday’s Green Bay-Arizona overtime thriller, but the three games that came before it were noteworthy in their own right.
They were mythbusters.
Myth: New England is unbeatable at home in the postseason.
Reality: Not only did the Patriots lose to Baltimore on Sunday at Gillette Stadium — ending their streak of 11 straight home playoff victories — they were crushed, 33-14.
The Ravens’ defense was smothering, forcing Tom Brady into three interceptions and a fumble in his first home playoff defeat. That defense will get another crack at Peyton Manning in the divisional round when the Ravens play at Indianapolis. Those teams met earlier this season in Baltimore. The Colts won by two, although Manning was intercepted twice.
Can Baltimore get the job done even when its quarterback struggles? That was the case Sunday, when the Ravens built a 24-7 halftime lead even though Joe Flacco had only nine yards passing and a 2.8 rating.
The Ravens are looking to reach the AFC championship game as a wild-card team for the second consecutive year — and they have to beat four-time most valuable player Manning to get there.
“We’ll enjoy it,” safety Ed Reed said. “And I know what’s next: No. 18 is coming. I know it, and he knows we’re coming.”
Myth: The New York Jets are doomed with a rookie quarterback at the helm.
Reality: Mark Sanchez outplayed Brady and Philadelphia’s Donovan McNabb. But the guy he was most concerned about topping was his fellow USC Trojan, Carson Palmer of Cincinnati.
Sanchez played virtually mistake-free football, completing 12 of 15 for 182 yards and a touchdown, with a passer rating of 139.4. So much for that Orange County kid freezing up in the cold; the windchill in Cincinnati dipped into single digits.
“He had the eye of the tiger today and he was ready to get out there and throw it around,” Jets Coach Rex Ryan said. “I see him getting better and better each day on the practice field. What a job he’s done. I think he’s tired of hearing he’s the weak link on this football team.”
Now comes the toughest challenge for Sanchez and the Jets. They play at San Diego against a Chargers team that has won 11 in a row.
Myth: Dallas disintegrates in do-or-die games.
Reality: Run that one past the Eagles, who lost three times to the Cowboys this season, and twice in the last week.
Dallas, which Saturday won in the playoffs for the first time since 1996, will play at Minnesota on Sunday.
“All right, can we all say it together now?” Cowboys owner Jerry Jones told reporters after the game. “The demons are, what? Gone!
“I’ve got all the respect in the world for Brett Favre, but we’ve got a chance to beat Minnesota. If we beat Minnesota, something special could happen here.”
Already, something special has happened. May the myths rest in peace.
My screw-up. I reported earlier that Jeff Mullen had gone 0-4 over the weekend. Mullen had called me from Vegas with the picks, instead of e-mailing them, and clearly stated the Jets.
With six playoff games remaining to the Super Bowl, this is how the standings now look with seven still eligible:
Jeff Mullen, 180-80
Danny From Foxxx Modeling, 179-81
Scott David, 179-81
0 & 16 Chuck, 178-82
Gene Ross, 176-84
Sean from Porn Legends, 175-85
John Gray, 173-87