Divisional playoff LVPs: Broncos secondary finished last

Doug Farrar
January 14, 2013

Everyone covering passes for the Denver Broncos: You can blame safety Rahim Moore all you want for losing coverage on the 70-yard touchdown pass from Joe Flacco to Jacoby Jones with 31 seconds left in regulation of the Baltimore Ravens' 38-35 overtime win over the Denver Broncos. But it was hardly all Moore's fault, even on that one play. Safeties Jim Leonhard and Mike Adams made confusing decisions, and cornerback Tony Carter got flat-out clowned down the sideline by Jones' pure speed. Add in Champ Bailey made to look like anything but a future Hall-of-Famer when covering Ravens speedster Torrey Smith, and Denver has a secondary that will raise serious offseason questions in general. Maybe it was just a bad day -- after all, Bailey gave up just one touchdown in the regular season before giving up two to Smith -- but that's the main reason the Broncos, the AFC's number-one-seed, is out of the playoffs.

[More NFL: Patriots take next step in playoffs without star TE Rob Gronkowski]

Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll: Carroll said this week that he had gone beyond the "hormonal" decisions that sometimes affected his success in previous landing spots, but the Seahawks' head man did not have his best day in Seattle's 30-28 nail-biting loss to the Atlanta Falcons. In addition to a number of head-scratching play calls in the red zone from his staff (seriously -- that's when you want Marshawn Lynch in there), Carroll may well have iced himself out of a championship game when he called time out just before Matt Bryant's first attempt at a 49-yard field goal with 13 seconds left in the game. Bryant missed that one to the right, but nailed his second chance to send the Seahawks home for the season. Carroll is a good coach, and he's done an amazing job with a young Seahawks team, but he'll spend a lot of time wondering just what he was thinking at certain points of this game.

The Green Bay Packers defense in general: Packers defensive back Charles Woodson said after the San Francisco 49ers' 45-31 beatdown of his team that his defense was in no way prepared for what 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick did to it. Kaepernick, in his eighth NFL draft, set an NFL record for rushing yards by a quarterback with 181 yards, and added 263 passing yards with several big downfield throws.

“We didn’t anticipate the quarterback running the way he did,” Woodson said. “I guess that was the X-factor.”

It certainly was. The Packers looked completely lost, no matter what Kaepernick did. They kept playing man coverage, allowing their defensive backs to turn their backs to Kaepernick and basically daring him to run. When they put a spy on the second-year man from Nevada, Kaepernick started to riddle them with his rifle arm. Given the fact that Kaepernick has played this way through the second half of the season -- ever since he replaced Alex Smith as the starter -- the Packers' lack of preparation was really confusing.

[Also: Ravens talk smack before Pats' game even ends]

Baltimore's special teams coverage units: The Ravens' overall special teams ranked first in Football Outsiders' metrics this season, and both coverage units put up good numbers in an overall sense, but that won't help Baltimore's coaches when they look at the tape of Broncos return man Trindon Holliday, who burned the Ravens for two return touchdowns -- one on a punt, and one on a kickoff. Baltimore's coverage units were either howlingly out of place ot blocked into oblivion, and as much trouble as any team has keeping up with the New England Patriots' offense, John Harbaugh's team can't give up big plays in the special teams, especially given Harbaugh's background as a special teams coach.

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