By Ben "Napoleon" Wilson
This weekend destroyed my new year's resolutions to eat less and be more active. The reason is simple, it was an epic sports weekend. Friday, Saturday, and Sunday featured 2 Jazz games, a BYU basketball game, a Utah basketball game, a Utah State basketball game, and 4 NFL divisional playoff games that included a double overtime thriller to kick the weekend football off.
So, lets take a quick look at all the action:
Jazz- The Jazz led the Atlanta Hawks by 15 late in the third quarter on Friday only to collapse like a house of cards. Former Jazz player Devin Harris had a point to prove vs the team that traded him in the offseason as he went off for 24 points on 7-of-8 shooting. Randy Foye led the Jazz as he went 6-for-7 from three. Atlanta beat the Jazz 103-95.
Saturday's back-to-back road matchup with the Detroit Pistons followed the same model as Friday. However, it was the Jazz who went down 15 and needed a comeback to get the win. On the back of Big Al's 20/10 (20 points, 10 rebounds, 3 assists, 4 steals), the Utah Jazz beat the Pistons 90-87. Jamaal Tinsley was sick and only played 6 minutes and Alec Burks wasn't a very effective option at point as he had just 2 assists and 3 turnovers. Earl Watson saw 26 minutes of playing time, including the closing minutes. In that time he recorded 6 assists and just 2 turnovers.
Utes- After pushing the cream of the PAC to the brink in Arizona and UCLA the Utes were happy to welcome USC with a 6-10 record to the Huntsman Center. The Utes figured they would roll in this one but USC was the much more aggressive team. Coach Larry Krystkowiak was critical of his team's effort after the loss. Next up for Utah is a Wednesday road game at the Washington State Cougars (9-7). WSU, like the Runnin' Utes, is winless in PAC-12 play.
BYU- BYU extended their winning streak to 6 games as they improved to 14-4 on the season and 4-0 in WCC play with a Saturday road win over the Santa Clara Broncos. Tyler Haws led the Cougs with 24 points on an efficient 10-of-24 shooting. BYU gets their first test in a while as they welcome the Saint Mary's Gaels to the Marriott Center on Wednesday. It's the late game on ESPNU and doesn't get underway until 9:00.
NFL Playoffs- The divisional playoff weekend started off with a bang as Denver vs. Baltimore started with a punt return for a TD and never let up. With Denver up by a TD and just 30 seconds to play, Baltimore QB Joe Flacco heaved the ball through the frigid Denver air and connected with Jacoby Jones for a score to send the game to overtime. After 15 minutes of scoreless overtime ball the game entered double OT where the Ravens sealed the victory with a field goal.
San Francisco vs Green Bay held some local interest as many were cheering against 49er starting QB Colin Kaepernick. Alex Smith fans were probably happy to see Kaep throw a pick-6 to start the game but the 2nd year pro rebounded and proved his coach a genius for the mid-season QB switch. Kaep threw for 263 yards and 2 scores and ran for another 181 yards and 2 TD's. The Niners pulled away from the Pack with a comfortable 45-31 win.
Seattle visited Atlanta in the other NFC divisional playoff game. Atlanta owned the first half and looked like they would cruise to their first playoff win in the Matt Ryan era but little Russell Wilson and the never-say-die Hawks fought back in to grab a 4th quarter lead with just 31 seconds to play. Matty Ice drove the Falcons on the ensuing possession and set up a 49 yard field goal attempt. The Kick was good and the Falcons held on to beat the Seahawks 30-28.
The final game of the weekend, Houston at New England, sucked. Houston was never in it and the Pats were clearly the better team with better talent and better coaching. New England beat Houston 41-28 in the least interesting game of the weekend.