The Riverfront Reporter
NFLAY Player Newsletter
ed Robert Crowther
This newsletter is several weeks late (from when I claimed I was going to do it, at least) and, if I don't make the deadline it may be even later. Apologies all round, Xmas didn't leave me with as much free time as I was expecting (like, none), hope you all had a good one and a not-too-sober New Year. As usual, send any contributions to:
25 Colman Court
Or email at '[email protected]' note the new address, I can no longer collect email from the old one. Also, another pubmeet is planned for the Saturday before the Superbowl. It seems our regular venue, the Firkin at Holborn, has been closed down so we now meet at a pub around the corner (which I can't remember the name of, but email me if you want to go).
Championship Games Review
Cincinnati started strong but had to settle for a field goal, Baltimore hod no such trouble finishing and ran it in from 35 yards out. An interception helped the Bengals overcome a very poor punt and end the quarter 3 points to the good. Baltimore regained the lead thanks to a Cincy interception, but another long drive tied the game up for the Bengals just after the two minute warning. Then, in a decisive 107 second burst, the Ravens hit field goals first from 52 yards and then from 58 yards to go in ahead by 6. The Bengals seemed somewhat shell shocked by this and struggled for field position throughout the third quarter. In the fourth they had a promising position, starting a drive at their own 42, but a fumble led directly to Baltimore's decisive final score.
Chicago had trouble getting their offense started despite a good kick return, but must have felt good after pinning the Panthers back to their own 4 yard line with a great punt. The good feeling didn't last long, however, as four plays later Carolina were in the endzone. A swift response from the Bears cut the lead to 4 but the ensuing kickoff was returned 65 yards and Carolina only needed two attempts to get back in the endzone. Chicago spent much of the rest of the half struggling to move the ball as the Panthers padded their lead with field goals. The opening drive of the second quarter started with another good Carolina kick return was followed by a five play drive and another touchdown. The Bears went to the deep passes to try and pull it back, and managed to get one touchdown on the board, but more often than not their drives petered out on fourth down.
For the second straight year the Ravens and Panthers faced each other in the Superbowl. Carolina once again started as favourites, but no-one could write off Baltimore with their excellent playoff form. The game started well for the Ravens with two first quarter touchdowns, but after that defenses took over, Baltimore were extremely successful in limiting the big play Carolina offense. Neither team offered much in the way of scoring threats until Carolina finally broke into the endzone in the fourth quarter. It was too late by then, however, and the Ravens claimed their second consecutive AY superbowl crown.
Championship Bowl Review
Two teams who would obviously have much rather been somewhere else, Chicago broke out to a big early lead and never looked in any danger after that. The Cincinnati offense did recover some pride with a couple of fourth quarter touchdowns, but that output was easily matched by the impressive Bears offense.
Divisional Bowl Review
Detroit, surprise entrants to the playoffs, pulled off another surprise by handily beating a well respected Indianapolis team. Neither team got much going offensively, the Colts superiority in this area being more than offset by good special teams from the Lions.
Silver Bowl Review
Pittsburgh continued their excellent run of form, despite the Jets managing to make their defense look vulnerable. New York got plenty of yardage on the ground and through the air but couldn't match the big plays of the Pittsburgh offense or their decisiveness in the redzone.
Bronze Bowl Review
The Dolphins ran all over the Giants, despite this New York kept it close through the first half. An interception return for a touchdown had the teams tied at 21 at the half. In the second half the benefit of all that Miami rushing power really began to show as they scored 13 unanswered points to take the bowl.
2004 Draft Review
This is my sixth Draft in this league, and the first with no standout player. This lack was made up for in terms of depth though, with no team losing out particularly. Most of the early drafters took advantage to retool on Offense with the Pack and Giants doing particularly well. For the third year in a row, the overall O/D ratio was 40/32: odd how statistics work sometimes. In the first round, the ratio was 15/9.
For my money, the Bengals once more topped the draft, gaining 7 points of players and 20 LPs from 19th place, and also drafting the first Kicker since the 2000 draft. After them, the Giants and Packers, followed by the Chiefs, Eagles, Rams, Bears and Raiders in no particular order. Baltimore raided the FA market for quality veterans, and picked up useful understudies for them in the last two rounds.
And just in case you were wondering: despite having an arm like a rocket, Weinke turned out to like the painkillers too much. Yours for 40 LP, see FA list for details.
A final thought: If draft position depends on season standings, surely adding the positions together provides a measure of the toughest division? If so, it looks like this:
AFC East: 67
AFC Central: 54 AFC Total: 154.
AFC West: 33
NFC East: 45
NFC Central: 45 NFC Total: 149.
NFC West: 59
( Note that all four AFC East teams finished with .500 or better records.)
2002 Season Playoffs