Snow Games Are Compelling, Until Turnovers, Injuries Get Out Of Control

By Kimberly Jones
» More Columns

The natural question, asked by many, was whether Sunday’s snow bowl in Philadelphia provided a preview for Super Bowl XLVIII at MetLife Stadium.

It would be quite a spectacle, a winter wonderland on Feb. 2 as the first outdoor, cold-weather Super Bowl delivers on the promise to be, if nothing else, unique.

Well, let’s get to a couple of things about that. For one, the first half between the Lions and Eagles was a mess. It was a compelling watch, sure, as Calvin Johnson and his facemask full of snow provided a fitting snapshot of the conditions. But Detroit fumbled the ball four times in the first quarter and finished with seven fumbles, including five on quarterback-center exchanges.

Credit LeSean McCoy, and his blockers, for recognizing that Sunday was not a day for any running back to crave the perimeter. He slashed the Lions up the gut, dashing for a franchise-record 217 yards and winning the game for the Eagles. And if the Eagles do reign in the NFC East, they’ll look back on Sunday’s 34-20 win as a defining moment. They rallied from a 14-0 deficit and were the tougher team in tough conditions.

Perhaps that game did present a blueprint for the competing teams if the weather forecast in the days leading up to the Super Bowl indicate that eight inches of snow, the official total Sunday in Philadelphia, are possible. And beginning shortly before kickoff. And continuing throughout the game.

However, there likely would be a significant difference between what we saw in at Lincoln Financial Field on Sunday and what we would see on Feb. 2 at MetLife: Preparation.

At the Linc, the belief was that light snow would begin at halftime at the earliest. Instead, the field became snow-covered and slippery during pregame warm-ups. Lions running back Reggie Bush lost his footing and fell, re-aggravating a calf injury. He didn’t play in the game.

Despite diligent work by the Eagles grounds crew – which used leaf blowers to try to clear snow – you have to think there will be a plan in place on Feb. 2 to make end lines visible, to allow for some play that at least resembles professional football in the Super Bowl.

But if weather conditions are brutal, the game and its quality clearly will be affected. We know this: The Eagles, should they get there, will be ready.

Run, Geno, run: After carrying the ball for a total of five times in his previous three games, all Jets losses, Geno Smith got back to using his legs to make plays Sunday. He rushed five times for 50 yards and a touchdown against Oakland.

“I think with that kind of mobility,” Rex Ryan said, “it’s a challenge for a defense.”

As the Jets continue to learn about Smith at every level, he is continuing a steep learning curve on life as an NFL quarterback. His willingness to use every advantage he can, including scrambling instinctively, is vital to his development. There already have been enough rookie mistakes.

Giants woes on “O”: In their last 29 games, the Giants have failed to score more than 21 points 14 times. The Giants have lost 13 of those games. Even with subpar play along the offensive line, it is almost mind-boggling how difficult it’s been for the formerly explosive Giants to eek out every first down, let alone find the end zone. The organization’s self-scouting this offseason must be extensive. And conclusive.

Exciting times in the NFL: If Sunday seemed like a particularly crazy day in the league, it was. It also continued a season-long trend. In research provided by the NFL, there have been 17 comeback wins of at least 14 points this season – one shy of the record of 18 in 2011.

And how’s this for parity? There have been 102 games decided by seven points or fewer, tied for the third-most through the first 14 weeks of a season in NFL history (105 in 2012).

The numbers also suggest what all of us who watch pro football already knew: This is no longer a league where defense dominates. There were 104 touchdowns in Week 14, the most in a single week in NFL history.

Quote of the Day: “It’s unusual (but) you just have to continue to play football and continue to stay positive and finish the season strong. (We need to) keep everyone healthy and do the right things from a football standpoint. And cherish the small moment that we have together and keep it going from there.” – Victor Cruz on Giants’ approach to their final three games.

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