Class Acts

By Zack Cimini

No discredit to Mike Vick or Ben Roesthlisberger, but the true class act quarterbacks performed on Sunday. The fact is, in the past four years Tom Brady and Donovan McNabb have quietly been performing the best in their conferences. Year in and year out they give off a demeanor of a casual relaxed calm presence, that just keeps them mentally focused and ahead of the next quarterback.

In New England, Tom Brady wanted another shot at Pittsburgh and he got exactly what he wanted. The game was at Pittsburgh in the second coldest playoff game in Steelers history. To add to the drama was the fact that rookie Ben Roethlisberger still hadn?t lost a game. All week Brady was faced with questions, and seemingly could have been judged like he was prepping for a regular season match up. His composure is unmatched, and it was the most evident factor of separation from him and Roethlisberger on Sunday.

Early jitters are common for any quarterback, but Roethlisberger couldn?t shake them throughout the entire game. Sure, he had a few good drives, but sixty percent of his drop backs you could tell he was completely distracted in the lime light. It got to the point that he was thinking run before the pass, and when that happens it gives the defense even more confidence. For instance when the score was 17-3, Roethlisberger used a few runs and a couple of short passes to move them down. New England is the best at noticing tendencies, and Romeo Crennel and the Patriots were quick to point it out.

Almost every time he threw a relaxed pass, it was a short route. The times that he actually took shots deep, he would be dancing in the pocket before chucking the ball. So at the snap of a ball, the secondary could just sit and see what type of comfort Roethlisberger was in. Rodney Harrison is not the type of safety that is known for jumping on the football, but Roethlisberger was in that one frame mode. Earlier in the season, he would have checked off and made the correct read in the end zone to Antwaan Randle El who was wide open. Even Roethlisberger couldn?t believe his mistake, when he went to the sideline and his offensive coordinator was showing his miscue.

On the flipside, every time Pittsburgh made a mistake Tom Brady would come in and throw some unbelievable passes. Brady gets a lot of credit, but there are definitely players not getting the recognition they deserve. David Givens and Deion Branch played phenomenal and caught everything, even in traffic. That?s something Seattle wish they had.

Another big key for New England is the presence of Corey Dillon. Early in the game Pittsburgh was doing a great job in shutting him down. Flashback to a year ago, and New England would have completely gave up on the running game with Kevin Faulk or Antowain Smith. That?s when Tom Brady would have to throw more screens, and slow down the tempo. This year though, they are able to continue to run the ball with Dillon because he is such a great back. His 71 yards is misleading, because he definitely opened up the Patriots offensive ability by taking shots deep. By the second half he was just pounding away at the Steelers defense, and finally broke off a 25 yard touchdown while shredding defenders on his way to the end zone.

Out in Philadelphia it was just their time. Mike Vick learned what Donovan McNabb learned the past three years, the fact that you can?t win in the NFC championship, without a talented supporting crew. Philadelphia may have three Pro Bowlers in the secondary, but the Falcons have serious problems at wide receiver that need to be addressed. In years past the same was for Donovan McNabb and every year was exposed by St. Louis, Tampa Bay, and last year Carolina. The same frustrations of trying to create something with his feet and threw the air was shut down, just like McNabb faced in the past.

Vick will learn from it, and probably quicker if the Falcons go out and do something at wide receiver. Maybe Moss wanting to be traded, will bring the best two combos right back at center stage for these two teams. Imagine Donovan McNabb and TO vs. Mike Vick and Randy Moss?

New England is a master at beating teams especially when they?ve been able to face them previously. The Eagles and Patriots have played in previous years, so there is some experience. But the Eagles have a completely different mold especially on the defensive side that should cause problems for Tom Brady. It?ll be up to Corey Dillon to showcase why the Patriots signed him. New England is in the Super Bowl for the third time in four years now. Shockingly, this could have been the third time in four years these two would have been playing each other in the Super Bowl. It?s been a long time coming for this match up, and should prove to be worthwhile.


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