I think it is ok for me to cheer for Russell Wilson, for now…

NFL Conference Championship Sunday I found myself in a struggle. Here I was, a die-hard San Francisco 49ers Faithful contemplating doing the unthinkable-cheering for the rival Seattle Seahawks.

Ok, let me back up. That particular Sunday, I was actually cheering for the Green Bay Packers. As a Faithful, there was no way I could cheer for our rival even if they had only recently become that. A rival is a rival and I draw the line deep in the dirt when rivalries are involved. I cheered against Seattle in the Superbowl last year and I have cheered against them all season. It was the right thing to do.

That Sunday, I left the house in confidence. I had been spending some time with my nephew and it was time to take him home. I know what you are thinking. She left during the game? Yes I did but any real football fan will have the NFL Mobile app on their phone so they always have access to the game. However, this particular time I did not even bother to turn the game on so I could listen. Green Bay had a 12 point lead with about five minutes left, I think. I was confident they were going to win and I could celebrate Seattle watching the big game at home, like us. You know payback for last year’s NFC Championship game. You still do not want to get me started on that.

I got out of my car at my brother’s, left my phone inside and got my nephew’s belongings. After chatting inside for about 15 minutes, it was back to the car to tune in to Green Bay’s celebration of their win and return trip to the Superbowl. WRONG!! Surely my eyes were deceiving me. They had to be! I know the score did not say Green Bay 19-Seattle 22. Ummm, what? What happened?? I was shocked, stunned and beffuddled. How could this have possibly happened??

Two words. Two words I am very familiar with. Russell. Wilson.

Early in the second half, in an ominous moment of foreshadowing, I sent out a tweet. It said, “Packers bet not let up. Never count out Russell Wilson! #GBvsSEA.” You see. I knew what Wilson was capable of. I saw his capabilities up close and personal when he was the starting quarterback of my beloved North Carolina State University Wolfpack. There were games where our wins could single handedly be contributed to Wilson’s uncanny nack for making things happen on the field. As long as he was behind center, we had a chance. Always. When his path to the NFL took him from Raleigh to Wisconsin, it was the same thing over and over. Wilson making things happen when it almost seemed impossible to get it done. So never count him out.

My return trip from my brother’s house included a stop at the grocery store. This is where NFL Mobile is clutch. The stop was necessary and me watching the game was definite. So there I was, in the grocery store, with a basket and my phone tuned into the game. Yes, the actual game. I pretty much got nothing accomplished. I should have just went straight home. I was by the salads when it happened. The legend of Russell Wilson grew by miles. Green Bay had tied the game right before the end of regulation to send the NFC Championship into overtime. Seattle won the coin toss and could punch their ticket to the Superbowl if they scored a TD on their first possession. Well, yep, that is exactly what they did. Wilson dropped one of the prettiest dimes I have seen him thrown perfectly into the waiting arms and hands of Jerome Kearse who then landed in the endzone to give Seattle a chance at being the first repeat champions since 2004.

Again, I was shocked, stunned and befuddled. How could this be? What happened? Oh, Russell Wilson happened. As I surprisingly rushed out of the store to get home and watch post-game coverage, all I could do was shake my head. Then it happened. En route, I found out that Wilson cried during his post game interview while giving God the credit. And everything over here changed.

I could no longer fight the love I have for my fellow Wolfpacker. Everyone who knows me well knows I am all the way loyal to my Wolfpack. However, when it comes to professional football, my loyalties lie with my teams first, Peyton Manning second then my Wolfpackers third. Sometimes, I will pull for my fellow Wolfpackers when they are playing against Peyton if the win is needed to help boost their possible playoff appearance. No matter what though, I pull for no one over my 9ers or Panthers. So imagine the disloyalty I felt to my 9ers when I begin to feel happy for Wilson. This was not suppose to happen or was it? Could I possibly be happy for Wilson without being happy for his team? Eh. Not really but you catch the drift.

Ever since he stepped foot onto the campus at North Carolina State, Wilson has exemplified what it means to be a champion. He has proven himself to be humble, a great role model, a leader, an inspiration and one of the top quarterbacks in the league. As a Wolfpacker and a person who just generally likes to see good guys win, it is almost impossible not to cheer for him and want to see him succeed.

With that said, Go Russell!!!! Go get that second ring! This 49er Faithful is rooting for you! For now….

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Kassie’s NFL ReKap!!

I owe my friend Earl Crawford an apology. During a Twitter exchange yesterday, I made the statement that “the O(Carolina Panthers) looked about the same. D looked niiiice.” My exact words. Earl’s response, ” I don’t understand….yr 1 O was on fire .. running up and down the field .. yr 3 we struggling…” Now in my defense, I was late getting home from church and I had to make a run during the game for pizza and breadsticks so I did not get to watch the whole game. It was not until I took a good look at the box score that I truly understood where Earl was coming from. My bad Earl. You were absolutely right. Yesterday’s offense was dismal. Quarterback Cam Newton completed 16 of 23 passes for 125 yards and one touchdown. Huh? Wait. What? Third year QB Newton ONLY had 125 yards? I need that to be a typo. Unfortunately, it is not. Newton did do a good job of spreading the ball around to multiple receivers, completing passes to five different players. However, that is just not enough. Now in his defense, this dismal offense was crippled by some dismal, conservative play calling. It was apparent that in order to beat the Seahawks, the Panthers were going to need a balanced attack. Surprisingly, the numbers say this is exactly what happened. 23 passing plays to 26 rushing plays. Well plays that netted yardage. So something is terribly wrong here. I saw too many dropped passes. I saw too many fumbles. And while I try not to “armchair coach,” I saw too many questionable play calls.

In year three of the Cam Newton offense, there should definitely be improvement from last year. The offensive line looked better. Newton seemed to be more patient in the pocket. And Steve Smith is still the fiery, ball snatching firecracker that he has been for the past 13 years. I agree with Newton and Smith when they say ” Everybody, let’s not panic now” but hey, something has got to give or somebody is going to be giving up a job soon.

Switching gears and speaking of giving, how about we give Seahawks QB Russell Wilson a round of applause. *insert applause* What sophomore slump? Wilson finished the day 25 of 33 for 320 yards and one touchdown. Things started out a little rough for Russell as he was under constant pressure from the Panthers front seven. However, once he got settled in, he managed the game like only he can. Scrambling when he needed to. Dropping back when necessary. Making throws on the run including a beautiful pass receiver Doug Baldwin. And of course, completing a beautiful game winning drive that culminated in a 43 yard touchdown pass to receiver Jermaine Kearse in the fourth quarter. That is just Russell being Russell. The other 31 teams better get used to it.

Switch.

All summer I have been hyping myself up, it did not take much, for opening  Sunday. My San Francisco 49ers vs the Green Bay Packers. A rematch of last year’s NFC Divisional playoff game. You know the game where 49ers QB Colin Kaepernick rushed for 181 yards. Yeah, that game.  Well all summer we heard about how the Packers were making adjustments so that they receive a repeat dose of what happened in January. Well, so much for that. Apparently the Packers thought Kaepernick could only beat them with his legs. Wrong. The arm proved to be just as lethal as Kaepernick lit up the Packers defense for 412 yards on 27 of 39 passes and three touchdowns. Huh? Wait. What? Looks like the Packers may need to go back to the drawing board once again. Ok, ok. Enough trash talk. For as much as I loved the way my 9ers looked yesterday, I am still extremely frustrated with our secondary. Too many missed tackles. Too many blow coverages. Too many missed assignments. Yesterday was essentially a shootout and it came down to which defense could hold. Thankfully, my 9ers defensive unit has been together for years and knows how to step up at just the right time. If it was not for that front seven then we might have had a different outcome. Fellow football fans have been telling me to calm down because Rodgers is a great QB who is going to torch secondaries constantly. Yeah, I know. However, I need to see some improvement out of our secondary and I am not seeing it. Remember, I was watching the 9ers when no one else was so that telling me that they are doing a good job will not work over here. If we are to, indeed, get ring number six then the secondary will have to step up in a major way. Teams will be looking to exploit that weakness. Now if everyone can get on the same page and play like rookie safety Eric Reid then it is curtains for everybody else! Bang! Bang! #NinerGang

Switch. My thoughts.

Speaking of curtains, the Pittsburgh Steel curtain may be closing. My goodness. They looked awful yesterday. So did those Jacksonville Jaguars. Sheesh.

Yeah Larry Fitzgerald! Snagged two touchdowns yesterday. Still top five in the WR department.

The New York Jets, with the assistance of a late hit penalty, won their opener. Yeah, I have seen this Lifetime movie before.

Speaking of Lifetime movies, the Dallas Cowboys one began last night with a win as well. We all know how this will play out. Maybe they will fool me. Eh, doubt it.

The New England Patriots needed late game heroics to beat the Buffalo Bills. I am not sure how to even interpret that. Any Given Sunday, I guess. Well almost.

The Chicago Bears beat the Cincinnati Bengals. Barely. That is a moot point though. As long as I get to sing “Bear Down.”

Miami beat the Browns, convincingly. However, they were not very impressive. Gotta love those Fins.

There was a Reggie Bush sighting in Detroit as the Lions beat the Minnesota Vikings. Bush racked up 191 yards of total offense and one touchdown. He has not produced that much offense since USC. Ok, Maybe he has but none of you would be surprised if I was right.  Adrian Peterson was sighted too.  Ran straight to paydirt on his first carry. From 78 yards away. Really dude?

Andrew Luck’s Colts allllllmost lost to the Oakland Raiders. Heard the Raiders looked good though.

And lastly, the New Orleans Saints worked that voodoo magic on the Atlanta Falcons, who were not able to #RiseUp for the occasion. Better luck next time birds.

Wildcard Weekend Roundup

What an interesting weekend of football!!! It was great, right? Lets rekap.

The biggest story of the weekend had to be Ray Lewis playing his last home game as a Baltimore Raven.

As I stated on Friday, his story of resilience and redemption is one that all can learn from. Lewis had a team high 13 tackles, wore a menacing face mask that made him look like he was going to war with the Deceptions and was on the field for the final kneeldown. Doesn’t get much better than that. He sealed his farewell with his patented “squirrel dance” (yeah, I just found out yesterday that it had a name) and exited to a deafening ovation for the crowd. Very fitting for a man who put a franchise and city on his back and gave it everything he had. On Saturday, my faves will go head to head. Peyton vs. Ray Ray. I think I shall remain neutral. Go Broncens!! Go Ravecos!!!

Oh, I guess you know the Ravens beat down the Colts.

Now onto Sunday’s other showdown…Rookie vs. Rookie. Elusive QB vs. Elusive QB. Russell vs. RG3. I know there was not any question as to who I was pulling for. Was it just me or did Russell look like he had been playing in the league for years? His composure in the pocket especially during a blitz is a thing of beauty. He does not get razzled easily. I tweeted last night that I was so happy that the nation was getting a chance to see what us Wolfpackers got to see for years. Russell is a baller!!! That Seahawks team makes me nervous. The combination of Russell, RB Marshswn Lynch and that defense is scary. I fully expect to see them in the NFC Championship playing against my 9ers. My boys better be ready!! By the way, Russell, the 75th overall draft pick, is the last rookie QB standing. Whoop whoooop!!

Yes, I talked about Russell before I addressed the RG3 controversy. Hey!!! I had to give Russell his flowers. I know you are waiting on my opinion about the RG3 debacle. I missed the first half but I heard he got hit early, was limping and was not very effective from that point on. I get the warrior attitude especially in the playoffs but when does a player’s health become bigger than the game? It is obvious that RG3 should have been pulled early in the game. Give the team a chance to win. It is not like the Redskins do not have a decent backup. Knees are nothing to play Russian Roulette with. Keeping RG3 in did not produce the result the team was hoping for. Putting Cousins in earlier could have changed the story.

As much as I talked about Sunday’s games, I almost forgot about Saturday’s. I was pulling for the Bengals because I wanted Coach Marvin Lewis to get that elusive first playoff win. As usual, the Texans found a way to win. They do not impress me, at all. I fully expect the Patriots to send them back to Texas for an early start to their summer vacay.

The Packers vs. Vikes game….snoozefest. I just woke up! Woke up to see Vikings back up QB, Joe Webb, on the ground, again. Po fella. Vikings did not stand a chance. Better luck next year.

:: My picks ::
Broncos vs. Ravens….Broncos
9ers vs. Packers….9ers
Texans vs. Patriots….Patriots
Seahawks vs. Falcons….Seahawks

:: Championship Weekend ::
9ers vs. Seahawks….9ers
Broncos vs. Patriots….Broncos

:: Super Bowl 47 ::
My 9ers vs. My boo #18 and the Broncos…..I will reveal my pick later this week :-}

P.S. The “melt” is on!!! Hockey is back!! Yes! Yes! Yes!!

Until next time….TOODELLS.

Dear referee…

I knew there had to be reason I kept waiting and waiting and waiting for the right time to blog about the replacement refs….

Who knew an Touchception/Interdown would cause such a stir? In case you were one of those early birds who went to bed before the game went off, let me explain to you real quick what happened. Russell Wilson, QB for Seattle, heaves the ball into the endzone with eight seconds left. Packers safety M.D. Jennings and Seahawks WR Golden Tate both leaped for the ball. Jennings leaped higher, got both hands on the ball and maintained possession. Yet, it was called a touchdown. HOL LUP. What? Yes, Tate had a hand on the ball but it is obvious, through replays, that he did not have possession. Nevertheless, the Hawks get the win, the Packers got the sham and TJ Lang gained thousands of new followers on Twitter after his rant.

As if we did not already know it before, the replacement need to be replaced. For the sake of everyone including theirselves. Blown calls. Wrong calls. Unsure calls. Not enough calls. Non-fluid hand signals. Fantasy owners. Facebook operators.  This is getting out of hand and the NFL is slowly moving from a well-oiled machine to a circus. I would not be surprised if a clown car drove onto the field at MT Bank Stadium Thursday night.

For the first two weeks, I had been adamantly defending the replacement refs. I am somewhat of a softie and I felt bad for them. They did not ask to be in this position and I truly believe most of them are doing their best. Everyone makes mistakes, including the “regular” refs. Remember the Tuck Rule? However, you have to recognize when you are in over your head and these refs are drowning, FAST. I know the opportunity to ref an NFL game is hard to pass up. I get that but I realized I needed these refs to have a reality check beforehand. Why would you accept the challenge if you were not going to take the game serious? Why would you accept the challenge if you are not confident in your refereeing skills? Why would you accept the challenge knowing you were not knowledgeable of the rules ? There are a lot of rules! Most of the players do not even know all of them. Just ask Donovan McNabb.

While it seems to be easy for everyone to point the finger at the NFL because we all know the NFL is a multi-billion dollar organization, the “regular” refs are not exempt from blame. They want to keep their pension plans. The NFL wants to take them. The NFL wants to hire seven full time officials. The refs do not want that. The refs wants this. The NFL wants that. Yada yada yada. Blah blah blah. Make. It. Stop. Last night’s disaster is unacceptable. When you have current and former players, general managers and analysts all turning against the league, you have a major problem on your hands. The refs are just as important to the game as the players and it is time that they get the respect they deserve.

Honestly, I do not care why the lockout is happening. Let me rephrase, I do care, if people’s well being and livelihoods are being affected. What I do not care about is who is right or wrong. Who said this or who said that. It does not matter. This fiasco should have ended before the season even started. After week one I was certain that we would not see another replacement ref on the field. The players need officials on the field who know the rules. The coaches needs officials on the field who are knowledgeable of the game. The league needs officials on the field who uphold the values and standards that the NFL has preached since day one. And, I need my dose of Ed Hochuli mixed in with some Mike Carey. If the NFL and the NFLPA truly care about the integrity of this league then they will do whatever it takes to reach an agreement, SOON. Or the clown car may be too full to drive into the stadium Thursday night.

 

Until the next fiasco….TOODELLS.