NFL Grown Man of the Week: I could almost see putting Adam Jones in this spot for actually apologizing to Antonio Brown.
However this Grown Man award has to go to Larry Fitzgerald, who ripped the heart out of Green Bay, Wisconsin when he took the opening play of overtime 75 yards to set up the walk off TD that he also scored.
The effort on that play was tremendous. The guy evaded eight would-be tacklers who could see their season evaporating in his wake.
NFL Child of the Week: Not going to say Ben Roethlisberger wasn’t hurt last week. Clearly he was, or he would have never left the game. However, he looked 100 percent against the Broncos. Big Ben knows how to milk an injury to make himself look like a warrior. And yes I am sure he was using some kind of Himalayan Goat DNA to numb any pain this week.
Winner: Tom Brady, of course, moved on to the AFC Conference Title game, making it his tenth such trip. The difference between KC and New England was Brady throwing darts while Alex Smith looked like a run of the mill QB.
Loser: It must be tough to be Alex Smith. You do all the right things in a season. Take care of the ball, manage the gameplan, do what the coach asks and after winning eleven games in a row, it all ends when you run up against Tom Brady and the Patriots. As disheartening as that must be, Smith can take some solace in knowing he isn’t the first to be swatted aside by Brady and company.
Winner: NFL fans who got to see what Seattle was made of after getting smacked by Carolina to the tune of 31-0 in the opening half. Champions don’t always win, but you can learn a lot about them in defeat. Watching the Seahawks shutout the Panthers the entire second half was great. And Russell Wilson did everything in his power to get his team back in the game one play at a time and came oh so close to tying the game.
Loser: The Seattle defense cannot stay intact forever with salary cap concerns. This may have been the last game we see this all time great unit at full strength.
Winner: Peyton Manning gets what I believe to be one last shot at a Super Bowl when his Broncos host the Patriots next week. I would not have bet on Manning making it through the season the way he was playing before his injury made Osweiler the starter. Manning is not my favorite player, but I can find no fault in the way he handles himself. Classy to the end.
Loser: NFL fans lost big by not getting to see Antonio Brown suit up against Denver. An unnecessary hit at the end of the Bengals game made the most exciting player left in the playoffs unavailable for round two.
Winner: Bruce Arians showed what kind of coach he is when he kept going after the win against Green Bay even as Carson Palmer struggled. Arians would not go into a shell at the end when he could have ran more clock. Fortune favors the bold and Arians was rewarded for his boldness with a trip to the NFC Title game.
Loser: Andy Reid is one hell of a coach. Bill Belichick is just a bit better than most, and he has Tom Brady by the way. Reid has had a lot of success in this League. It just looks like he is not destined to win a Super Bowl.
Winner: Jeff Janis will likely never be a household name, but at least for one night this guy was an NFL star. He was the go-to receiver for Aaron Rodgers in a game that saw nearly no Packer regulars left standing. Janis caught seven passes in the game, including a fourth and 20 ball before he snatched the hail mary TD to tie the game.
Loser: Fitzgerald Toussaint gave up the fumble that turned the tide in favor of Denver. The turnover led to a Denver touchdown that Pittsburgh could never match.
Winner: Aaron Rodgers showed how he can take any set of receivers and compete with every team in the League. He nearly upset the Cardinals with his passing brilliance. What he did with the cupboards bare was amazing.
Loser: Rodgers got bounced from the playoffs in horrific fashion for the second consecutive season. Losses like these have to be hard to handle, even considering they were the underdogs in this one on the road.
Loser: Of the four teams left in the playoffs I’m not sure Carson Palmer isn’t the least trustworthy passer. His confidence has to be shaken after throwing a costly pick in the end zone and later tossing a couple more reckless passes that could have cost his team dearly.
Bruce Arians never stopped letting him pull the trigger, but Cardinal fans have to be concerned about their leader who has a jacked up finger and is in a shaky place mentally.