Packers-Cardinals: Guns don't kill people, Kurt Warner kills people

Cold, Hard Football Facts for Jan 10, 2010



The Cold, Hard Football Facts recover from the over-stimulation of Arizona's record-setting 51-45 victory over the Packers to cuddle with Kurt Warner's legend and dig up 10 Cold, Hard Football Facts about the highest-scoring game in postseason history. 
 
 
1. We need a cold shower and a cigarette. The Cold, Hard Football Facts generally enjoy old-school, mud-and-spittle football. A 5-4 battle  highlighted by three safeties and a game-winning field goal (kicked straight-on style) by the left tackle?
 
That's our definition of a barn burner.
 
With that said, Arizona's 51-45 victory over the Packers was sensory overload. We haven't felt this spent since that day we dropped five bills at the local happy-ending Asian massage parlor.
 
It goes into the record books as the highest scoring playoff game in NFL history, the combined 96 points edging out the 95 in Philly's 58-37 win over the Lions in the 1995 wildcard round (yes, folks, the Lions once appeared in the playoffs).
 
Kurt Warner was also on the winning end of the third highest-scoring game in NFL history: his Rams topped the Vikings, 49-37, in the 1999 divisional playoffs.
 
The 13 combined touchdowns on Sunday, meanwhile, is a new postseason record.
 
Here's a look at the five highest-scoring games in postseason history, courtesy of the NFL Record & Fact Book
 
1. Arizona 51, Green Bay 45, 2009 (OT)
2. Philly 58, Detroit 37, 1995
3. St. Louis 49, Minnesota 37, 1999
4t. San Diego 41, Miami 38 (OT), 1981 (Kellen Winslow game)
4t. Buffalo 41, Houston 38 (OT) 1992 (Frank Reich comeback game)
 
2. We suck ... Bad ... Real Bad. Our wildcard weekend picks? Victories by the Eagles, Patriots, Packers and Jets, with Green Bay going on to win the Super Bowl.
 
The actual results? Losses by the Eagles, Patriots and Packers, and Green Bay most certainly will not go on to win the Super Bowl.
 
Other than the fact we missed badly on every game but Jets-Bengals, and other than the fact that our projected Super Bowl champ failed to win a single playoff game, it was a good weekend for us.
 
3. We rule. Kurt Warner is a God. Our suckitude is countered by the fact we've been sitting in the driver's seat of the Kurt Warner bandwagon for years. In fact, the Cold, Hard Football Facts take a lot of heat from the disbelievers for our Troll-crush on Warner.
 
But the numbers are what the numbers are, and we never dispute the numbers: Warner has put up historic performances with two different franchises, leading both to the greatest periods of success either has enjoyed in the Super Bowl Era. His effort Sunday against a Green Bay team that led the league with 30 picks was a performance for the ages, by any passer. They were sick, dizzying numbers:
  • 29 of 33 (87.9%), 379 yards, 11.5 YPA, 5 TD, 0 INT, 154.1 passer rating
It's the highest postseason passer rating in history by a guy who attempted at least 30 passes and the most accurate day in history (postseason or regular season) by a guy who attempted at least 30 passes.
 
Oh, and Warner is now 9-3 (.750) in the playoffs, the third-best record by any current player (New England's Tom Brady played poorly Sunday and fell to 14-4 (.777) in the postseason; Ben Roethlisberger is 8-2 (.800)).
 
4. Green Bay's D-Hogs were carved up like a holiday ham. Hey, we hyped our favorite indicator all year for its 20-2 performance picking playoff winners over the past two seasons.
 
So it's time to man up when it doesn't all work out: the Packers entered the game with the NFL's No. 1 Defensive Hogs and we saw the ability to attack opposing passers and shutdown enemy ground attacks as one of a pair of big reasons why Green Bay was a Super Bowl favorite.
 
(Our pals at SI.com seemed to agree: five of the so-called "experts" on their prediction panel, including our own Chief Troll, picked the Packers to win the NFC.)
 
But instead of leading the Pack to victory, Green Bay's hogs were carved up like a holiday ham: they forced just one Negative Pass Play (a sack) on 34 dropbacks, they were gashed on the ground by a normally unproductive Arizona run game (23 carries, 156 yards, 6.8 YPA) and they couldn't make a stop on third: the Cardinals were so prolific on offense that they faced just five third downs all day, converting three.
 
Conversely, it was Arizona's D-Hogs that manned up in a critical moment: they not only forced five sacks, but it was a strip-sack of Rodgers on the game's final play that led to Karlos Dansby's game-winning overtime defensive touchdown.
 
The Defensive Hog Index, meanwhile, was 2-2 identifying playoff winners on wildcard weekend.
 
5. Pat Benatar is the greatest of the 1980s rock Goddesses. Sorry, just sitting here pining away for our first love.
 
show video here
 
 
6. We'll never figure out the 2009 Packers. This was a great team in every way but the one that mattered: on the scoreboard.
 
Green Bay this year dominated countless stats, including many traditional stats and many of our Quality Stats. But at the end of the day, they were a team that couldn't translate statistical dominance into victories. They went just 11-5 in the regular season and surrendered 51 points in the wildcard round of the playoffs.
 
They were a team that were not quite as good as the sum of its statistical parts.
 
7. We want to have Kurt Warner's children. The Rams have played in the NFL since 1937. They've enjoyed just 19 postseason victories in their entire 74-season history. Warner was the quarterback for six of those 19 wins, including the franchise's only Super Bowl victory.
 
The Cardinals have played in the NFL since 1920, one of the two original NFL franchises still in the league (the other is the Bears). They've now enjoyed just six postseason victories in the entire 90-season history. Warner was the quarterback for four of those six wins, including the franchise's only Super Bowl appearance.
 
Notice a trend here, folks?
 
Our own Colonel Comey said Sunday that Warner "just cemented his spot in the Hall of Fame" with his performance against the Packers. Some of us already had him heading to Canton ... but nobody can argue against him now, regardless of what happens next week.
 
8. Arizona's receiving corps is so deep that it should wear a beret, study Plato and quote Hegel. The Cardinals offense was paced Sunday by its fantastic No. 3 receiver, Steve Breaston, who hauled in seven passes for 125 yards and 1 TD.
 
He was brilliant on Arizona's final scoring drive in regulation, the one that gave the Cards a 45-38 lead with minutes to play. Warner connected with Breaston for a 26-yard gain down the right sideline, dropping the ball in the receiver's hands as if they were standing next to each other. Breaston hauled in a 17-yard touchdown catch two plays later.
 
Few teams ever have been able to trot out three potential game-breaking receivers like Arizona has been able to do with Larry Fitzgerald (6 catches, 82 yards, 2 TD), Anquan Boldin (dnp) and Breaston.
 
No. 4 man Early Doucet, meanwhile, who caught just 17 passes with one TD all year, hauled in six passes for 77 yards and two scores on Sunday.
 
9. Aaron Rodgers can't catch a break. Green Bay's quarterback gave one of the best performances in the long, storied history of Packers postseason football. He completed 28 of 42 passes for a franchise playoff record 422 yards.  
 
He certainly played well enough to win the game, as he had all season. Rodgers did throw one pick when he needed to be perfect (as Warner was) and he suffered five sacks, as the Green Bay OL picked the wrong game to return to its sieve-like form of early in the season.           
 
But overall it was a great effort, highlighted by an almost effortless two-minute drive to tie the game at the end of regulation. But it wasn't enough on a day when the Green Bay defense came up with perhaps the worst performance in franchise history. And it will be another year, at least, before Rodgers can finally emerge from the long, self-centered shadow of one BrettFavre.                  
 
10. Guns don't kill people. INTs kill people. The Cold, Hard Football Facts interception ladder is one of our greatest contributions to all of pigskin kind, in a long list of them. We'll publish the updated list this week, but the long and the short of it is that every INT you throw in the playoffs cuts your chances of winning by about 20 percentage points.
 
A passer who throws zero picks wins about 80 percent of the time; one pick, 60 percent; two picks, 40 percent ... etc.
 
The 2009-10 wildcard weekend provided a perfect case study, as the team with more picks lost all four games.
  • The Patriots threw three picks, the Ravens one – the Ravens won.
  • The Packers threw one pick, the Cardinals zero – the Cardinals won.
  • The Bengals threw one pick, the Jets threw zero – the Jets won.
  • The Eagles threw one pick, the Cowboys threw zero – the Cowboys won.
Now, of course, three of those games were blowouts. One play wouldn't have changed the outcome of the Baltimore, New York or Dallas victories. But the fact remains that picks are devastating, the single most important play in most every playoff game ever played. Teams that throw picks lose games; teams that don't throw picks win games.

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