When in doubt, ask John Madden. That’s what we always say. By the time he finishing bumbling his words, you always have a clearer outlook on things. Of course, you gotta listen to him actually speak in that annoying tone if you do that and then you’re running the risk of getting list pieces of turduckin spit all over you and that’s never pleasant. Plus, the stench from his mouth. Oh, god, the stench. So, actually, nevermind, don’t ask John anything in person. Let’s just leave all the formulating of intelligent ideas to his video game which predicts the Cowboys take it all this year and here’s how.
NFC Division Champions: North – Vikings
South – Buccaneers
West – Rams
East – Cowboys
Wildcards – Saints and Redskins
AFC Division Champions: North – Steelers
South – Colts
West – Chargers
East – Patriots
Wildcards – Jets and Jaguars
The Jaguars went on the road and upset the Chargers, 23-20, by virtue of 147 rushing yards from Fred Taylor. Tampa Bay blew out New Orleans, 37-13, with Drew Brees throwing five — count them — five interceptions. Indianapolis held serve against the Jets for a 37-20 victory that offered some revenge for the 41-0 shellacking the Jets laid on them in January of 2003, while the Rams dominated the Redskins in the latter’s second straight disappointing playoffs, winning 34-6.
The Patriots knocked out the Jaguars for the third time this decade, prevailing in a snowy 30-10 battle that saw Lawrence Maroney score three touchdowns. The Colts were unable to claim revenge on the Steelers for their early-2005 loss, with the Steelers winning 19-10. In the NFC, the Cowboys outscored the Rams in a shootout, with three DeMarcus Ware sacks contributing to a 38-24 victory, while the upset of the week saw the Buccaneers blow out the Vikings and poor Tarvaris Jackson on the road, 37-13.
The Patriots famously blew out the Steelers’ following Anthony Smith’s trash talk in Week 14 of 2007; this game was closer, but a 25-21 victory with a wild finish gave the Patriots their Super Bowl spot. The game came down to an Ellis Hobbs interception in the end zone on the Steelers’ final drive. Their opposition was provided by the Cowboys, who beat the Buccaneers in another classic, 21-17. Tony Romo led the Cowboys down the field in the final two minutes, and when he hit tight end Jason Witten for an 18-yard touchdown pass with :39 left on the clock, the Buccaneers were heartbroken and finished.
In the Super Bowl, the Patriots started off with the ball, marched down the field, and scored thanks to a Lawrence Maroney touchdown, giving them a 7-0 lead. There was no scoring until the end of the half, when a Stephen Gostkowski field goal put the Patriots up 10-0 heading into halftime.
Coming out of halftime, the Cowboys were clearly an inspired team. They scored when Tony Romo ran the ball in from six yards out, making the score 10-7. The Patriots responded with a huge kickoff return, but couldn’t move the ball and could only muster a field goal. That was topped when Isaiah Stanbeck returned the resulting kickoff 95 yards, giving the Cowboys a 14-13 lead. Each team traded field goals on their next possessions, and as the fourth quarter started, the Cowboys led by the narrowest of margins: 17-16.
The Patriots kicked another field goal, Gostkowski’s fourth of the game, to take a 19-17 lead. From there, the Cowboys were forced to punt, and the Patriots drove to the Cowboys 2, only for a Zach Thomas sack to force the Patriots to kick yet another field goal; Gostkowski’s sixteenth point of the game made the score 22-17.
With three minutes left, Tony Romo launched the drive of his life, the highlight being a 4th-and-2 on his own 33-yard-line where he hit Terrell Owens on a slant for a first down, only for Owens to break a tackle and scamper all the way down to the Patriots 19. Two plays later, Marion Barber ran in from eight yards out to make the score 23-22; they added a two-point conversion to make it 25-22.
Giving Tom Brady the ball with 84 seconds left seemed scary enough, but much like last year, Brady couldn’t get his drive started. He nearly threw an interception on first down, was sacked by Thomas on second down on a play where no one got open, was sacked by Ware on third down, and on fourth-and-26, Brady’s completed pass came up five yards short, ending the season and giving the Cowboys their sixth Super Bowl. Thomas was named the game’s MVP.
[IGN]: 2008 Season Simulation