By Julie Buehler
Take that Hollywood.
Thanks for coming to Palm Springs and bringing your film festival, but it doesn’t matter how bright your stars shine, how brilliant a screenplay is, or how many golden statues are handed out in adulation.
You can’t touch NFL playoffs. Can’t even get within the shortest yard of it.
While some enjoy the American Hustle of what you have to offer, there’s a Titanic difference between some big-screen, green-screened, special effects loaded, half-true tail and the heart-pounding, knees-weakening, authentic and genuine NFL drama.
It was a true West Side Story as the 2 California-based teams, the San Francisco 49ers and San Diego Chargers both advanced to the next round.
And while Some Like It Hot, the weather in Philadelphia, Green Bay and Cincinnati was very cold. It didn’t snow, but in Cincinnati, it did Rain, Man.
We had the Rudy of all playoff teams, the Chargers, pull off the upset over the 3rd seeded Cincinnati Bengals. The Bengals hadn’t lost a home game all season long. But when Andy Dalton started heaving the ball against a tough Chargers pass rush, the offensive game plan quickly became Risky Business and 4 turnovers later, San Diego snagged the win.
And while the Bengals hopes of a playoff win are Gone With The Wind, for the Chargers, this victory was pure Shawshank Redemption.
See, after 6 years of getting Norved by their head coach, Norv Turner, ownership finally fired The Lord of No Rings, AJ Smith, and Turner and quarterback Philip Rivers could work in an offense that suited him. You know, one with a running game. To say this season has been a Cinderella story is an understatement.
Meanwhile, the Niners, coming off last year’s Super Bowl loss, began their playoff season in 2012 beating the Green Bay Packers at home in sunny California. This year, their hopes to repeat as NFC champs required trekking north of Fargo into the frigid cold of Lambeau field. Dueling out on turf-turned-concrete, Aaron Rodgers and Colin Kaepernick both made big plays with their arms, but the Big leg of Niners kicker Phil Dawson sealed the 23-20 Niners win as time expired.
Oh yeah, got to witness Indianapolis Colts quarterback, Andrew Luck, in his second year in the league, lead his team to the 2nd largest playoff comeback in NFL history. The Hangover the Colts started the game with carried into the 3rd quarter when Luck threw an interception and the Chiefs extended their halftime lead to 38-10. Seemed not even William Wallace could rally the troops. Until Luck did. What happened over the next 2 quarters was a Twister of emotion and interceptions, touchdowns, big plays and it all culminated into a 45-44 Colts win.
For every Chiefs fan, it felt like the Skyfall-ing one Luck completion at a time.
But the Colts just Die Hard. Plain and simple. They didn’t panic, they didn’t concern themselves with the Inconvenient Truth of trailing 38-10 to start the 3rd quarter.
While few Colts fans in the stands could believe their team would rally from a 28-point deficit, on-looking Chiefs fans, also witnessing history but on the very wrong end of it, could only hold back their gag reflex, their faces turning 50 Shades of Gray.
Heading north to Philadelphia, the Eagles hosted the Saints who had never logged a road playoff win. But Drew Brees with his Sixth Sense and the Rebel Without A Cause, defensive coordinator, Rob Ryan all had something to prove heading north.
In past playoff games, Brees would carry the team on his shoulders, heaving passes downfield or threading them past defenders. But this time was different. For their first road playoff win, it was the defense that staved off an Eagles comeback for a 26-24 win off the foot of newly acquired New Orleans kicker, Shayne Graham. Graham was added to the team 2 weeks ago. The whole season came down to his foot and he’d been on the team 2 weeks.
For the Niners, Saints, Chargers and Colts, it was The Good. For the Bengals and Eagles, and Packers it was The Bad and for the Chiefs, well, that was THE UGLY.
So even if losing in heart-breaking fashion leaves Chiefs fan looking Les Miserables, NFL playoff football is the greatest source of entertainment known to man.
So sit back, pass the popcorn and enjoy the divisional rounds. Because when you’re watching the best do what they do best for the chance to hoist a giant silver statue, well, all I can say is, Its A Wonderful Life.
Julie Buehler hosts the Coachella Valley’s most popular sports talk radio show, “Buehler’s Day Off” every day from 3-6 on 1010 KXPS, the valley’s all sports station. She’s an avid gym rat, slightly sarcastic and more likely to recite Steve Young’s career passing stats than American Idol winners. Tune in M-F 3-6 pst at www.team1010.com or watch the show on Ustream.