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Pressure builds as the final fight for playoff spots becomes personal

Discussion in 'Chargers Fan Forum' started by Concudan, Dec 23, 2008.

  1. Concudan

    Concudan Caffeinated Commando

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    [​IMG]
    Cutler is a dork...

    By Thomas George | NFL.com
    Senior Columnist

    You can't make this stuff up.

    Mike Holmgren beats his once-young-pup of a quarterback, Brett Favre, in the coach's finale in Seattle. Now Favre shoots to salvage the wavering warmth of his unlikely move to the New York Jets by flogging the quarterback he replaced, Miami's Chad Pennington.

    New England needs help from a loathed AFC East enemy -- the Jets -- to help pave its way into the playoffs.

    Dallas must win at NFC East brethren Philadelphia to reach the postseason, though it has won there just twice since 2000.

    How about a Jon Gruden-Al Davis reunion? Gruden used to coach Davis' Oakland Raiders, already trounced them nearly six years ago in Super Bowl XXXVII and now hopes to batter them again Sunday at Tampa Bay as a potential bridge to the playoffs for the Buccaneers.

    Karma? What goes around comes around. Again.

    This is the NFL, where coaching relationships and player relationships and owner relationships frequently interlock. Old friends become new foes. Teammates become ex-teammates and ferocious rivals. Owners scrutinize each other from near and far in attempts to create winning upper hands. With 32 teams in this league, the combinations, the matchups, the absorbing twists and alluring turns are built through competition, familiarity and longevity.

    And that helps increase pressure.

    That's what Week 17 is about each NFL season -- pressure. Only 12 of the league's 32 teams can earn a playoff spot, so, from the start, it's a measurement of your franchise, your blueprint every year if you're among the dozen in, not the 20 out.

    Sure, you'd like to win a playoff game, but in most circles, the pressure of earning a postseason spot in this league is greater. You start in training camp and things look hopeful, get through half a season and pray you're building something that lasts, and often reach the final week in an all-or-nothing confrontation. And the pressure is distinctive. It compounds. It can become suffocating.

    It can become personal.

    Take the Broncos and Chargers.

    Bad blood has been brewing here for a while, in public and in private. It intensified in Week 2 when the Broncos beat the Chargers in Denver, only, San Diego believes, because of a bad break in officiating. We remember the Chargers last year woofing at the Broncos' sideline during their late-season matchup. We heard earlier in this season from Denver QB Jay Cutler -- he doesn't care for the antics or persona of San Diego QB Philip Rivers. Rivers assuredly believes that Cutler being taken over him this year as a Pro Bowl selection was a farce.

    The winner of Sunday night's game in San Diego wins the AFC West.

    Ultimate pressure.

    The Chargers are 7-8. Win, and they're in at 8-8.

    "I'm not worrying about anything concerning the record or the past but only about Denver," Chargers coach Norv Turner said. "Doing anything else won't help us beat Denver."

    Broncos coach Mike Shanahan is doing the same, not lamenting on his team's blown chance to clinch when it lost to the Buffalo Bills at home last Sunday.

    Shanahan reviewed video of the game Monday morning. He saw what he thought he saw.

    "I saw it the first time around -- we were 2-for-6 converting in the red zone," said Shanahan, whose team would enter the playoffs at 9-7 with a victory this weekend or finish at .500 and out of the playoffs with a loss. "I have told my team not to worry about what is said on the outside. They said the same things about us before we won at Cleveland, at Atlanta and at the Jets. You lose a couple of games in this league, and you always have to go out after that and prove yourself even more.

    "We had 500 yards of offense against Buffalo. It's getting things tightened. A lot of times, you go out in a game and do nothing on offense, defense or special teams and get your tail kicked. That would concern me. That did not happen. So, we know we have something to work with. This game has turned into a big rivalry."

    How do Turner and Shanahan orchestrate their teams this week so they can perform under inordinate pressure Sunday night?

    Both are working on that right now. That's the task up to kickoff and even during the game.

    Is the pressure of winning in Week 17 to reach the playoffs more or less than the pressure of winning to avoid a 0-16 season?

    The latter part, only the Lions can answer.

    They're already 0-15, the only NFL team to ever reach that mark. They're staring at an even further humiliating 0-16 season when they play at Green Bay on Sunday. The Lions could become the only team to go 0-16 in a season one year after the Patriots became the only team in league history to earn a 16-0 regular season.

    Karma.

    The Lions laid seeds for this during the offseason and in training camp. They moved from offensive coordinator Mike Martz to Jim Colletto, from a pass-emphasis offense to a run-first offense. And though the players, including then-starting QB Jon Kitna, voiced public support, most of them moved forward into something they didn't believe in, according to a player who was in Detroit's training camp.

    That player is running back Artose Pinner, who was drafted by Detroit in 2003, played there for three seasons and returned this summer in hopes of another stint. He was among the Lions' final cuts in August and is a free agent.

    Said Pinner: "Backstabbing goes on in a lot of organizations, just not in Detroit, but it was happening there. The players on offense did not trust what they were hearing from the coaches. It was pretty strong across the board. Coach (Rod) Marinelli did not take control of it early like he should have. Players got very comfortable voicing their opinions with coaches. People just weren't buying into the systems. It was better on defense, but it was bad on offense. And everyone was not treated equally. It was blatant. The higher you were drafted, the more you got away with. There were coaches like (receivers coach) Shawn Jefferson who had great respect. So, it wasn't everybody, and it wasn't all the time. But it was more than enough."

    Marinelli declined to comment.

    "As the season has gone on," Pinner said, "the Lions are increasing the will of their opponents to win against them. Nobody wants to be that team that loses to the Lions. It is a very weird thing: The will to win by those teams that don't want to be the only one to lose to Detroit has been greater than the Lions' will to win to avoid 0-16. And I see that continuing at Green Bay."

    The Lions haven't won at Green Bay in 17 years.

    While others fight for playoff possibilities in Week 17, the Lions fight for an ounce of respect in a one-shot divisional road game.

    That is, indeed, pressure.

    http://www.nfl.com/news/story?id=09000d5d80d9055a&template=with-video-with-comments&confirm=true
     
  2. Buck Blincoe

    Buck Blincoe BoltTalker

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    Belichick must be seething knowing the Patriots playoff fate lies with Mangini and the Jets.....football doesn't get any better than what is to happen this coming weekend....great game last night in Chicago. Lots of grit, and the way football should be played...wind chill at -15...frozen turf, and a must win for the Bears that came in overtime...excellent!!!

    Tough year for the Packers.
     
  3. Sydalish

    Sydalish Addicted to Sports

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    Couldn't agree more.

    Pairty brings out the best in the NFL imo - this weekend should be awesome! :yes:
     
  4. Buck Blincoe

    Buck Blincoe BoltTalker

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    Yo, Sydalish...the bride and I are headed down to LB this afternoon for a couple pops at Las Brisas.
     
  5. Skuzzlebutt

    Skuzzlebutt BoltTalker

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    So... are we officially rooting for the Dolphins during our tailgate Sunday?
     
  6. When Lightning Strikes

    When Lightning Strikes Well-Known Member

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    im all about the dophins!! I want to see the patriots sitting at home this year at 11-5
     
  7. cranberry

    cranberry BoltTalker

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    Of course I do shouting for the Dolphins.
    Don't want to have the Pats in the playoffs.
     
  8. Buck Blincoe

    Buck Blincoe BoltTalker

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    Smatta...fraid they would kick your asses again? :icon_tease:
     
  9. cranberry

    cranberry BoltTalker

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    heartbreaking football games are those to remember!

    twice as hard versus division foes. GO Chargers
     
  10. cranberry

    cranberry BoltTalker

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    Bolts don't lose twice against the Fish, but Pats don't

    go behind Chargers a second time, too. That's my believin'.
     
  11. montanabolthead

    montanabolthead BoltTalker

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    Just call me Flipper this weekend!! Go Fish!!
     
  12. sdbound

    sdbound Well-Known Member

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    Yea, that's it. :lol:

    [​IMG]
     
  13. HEXEDBOLT

    HEXEDBOLT Don't like it, lump it!!!

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    The pressure is all on the Donk's they fawked up, we just need to go play. We've been left for dead since 4-8, why worry?????:bolt::icon_shrug:
     

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