Footballs get handed out for wins and great play. Unfortunately, this isn't that kind of post.
Today, I'm awarding an Albatross to those who deserve it most. Let's start with coaches.
A smelly dead Albatross each to coaches Fox, McCoy and Del Rio.
On the offense, the albatross goes to coaches McCoy and Fox for unimaginative play calling on third and short, and for not trying something more likely to work while running out the clock to win the game at the end of the 4th quarter.
On the defense, the albatross goes to coaches Del Rio and Fox for getting away from the defensive play that worked so well during the winning run. Rushing three, for example, so that Flacco, who has an ability to throw the ball long, can take all day to find someone open when his record is one of poor decision-making when under pressure. And for not ordering the safeties to play deep to give some help to Bailey and Carter against some big, strong, fast wide receivers.
For the players.....
An albatross to Rahim Moore for trying to be a hero and make a spectacular play instead of doing his job (and thus winning the game). Have to feel sad for him, particularly given his stand-up character in taking ownership and responsibility for his play during interviews after the game.
An albatross to Tony Carter for two plays I can think of - the pass interference call that kept a drive alive for Baltimore and allowed Flacco to toss a long TD pass, and for watching the QB instead of sticking with his man at the end of the game to deny him the ball.
An albatross to Champ Bailey for the quality of his play against the Baltimore WRs, getting beat like a rented mule in a really big game. Bailey probably isn't as fast as he was once upon a time (which has led to discussions in other posts about the need for picking CBs in this year's draft, but I digress). But I'm confident that if he had been playing safety at the end of the game, HE would have been deep enough to break up the 70 yard pass, or at least tackle the receiver.
An albatross to Peyton Manning for the dumb throw across his body for the final interception, AND for not overturning the gutless run call from the bench when trying to ice the game.
An albatross to Matt Prater for kicking the ground instead of the ball in his lone field goal try. An amateurish play - I would have expected better from a professional - and it cost us not only 3 points for the missed field goal, but 7 more for the touchdwon Baltimore scored after getting great field position.
An albatross to Elvis Dumervil for more stupid off-sides penalties that prolonged an opponent's drives.
For the refs and the NFL offices....
Possibly the worst officiated game I have ever seen. An albatross to the NFL for assembling ref teams from scratch for postseason games (instead of selecting "teams" of referees who had worked together all year) to officiate a game. Frankly, this was awful. I was ready to ask for the replacement refs back.
Lastly, and despite the spirit of this post, it would be remiss to overlook the spectacular play of Trindon Holliday and the excitement he has brought to special teams this year. Or the heroic effort that Knowshon Moreno gave before getting injured. Or the work that Ronnie Hillman put in during an extended effort. Or for the TD passes that Manning threw and the receivers caught. Or for the work that the DL and LBs gave in mostly shutting down Ray Rice.
It's been a great year, but with a bitter aftertaste, and it's hard to describe how disappointed I am that we won't be able to play the Texans or Patriots next week, and instead have to watch a lesser team go on in our place.