Underneath all the clichés and apologies, it is hard to argue the Baltimore Ravens would not have lost the game long before overtime without several game-changing assists from the officiating crew.
Despite a slightly weaker conference championship winning percentage than New England , San Francisco edges the Patriots in the most likely Super Bowl.
In football, the odds are carefully crafted and discussed. People went into this weekend knowing for sure that the Denver Broncos would beat the Ravens. But the odds didn't take into account the intangibles -- in this case, the spirit of Ray Lewis.
For John Elway, Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos, their dream season ended in utter heartbreak. More specifically though, it was the way it ended, 38-35 in double overtime, at the hands of two Manning picks and a torched defense, that was so surprising.
For the Ravens to even stand a chance in this game, quarterback Joe Flacco's going to have to seriously improve upon his performance from the last time these two teams met.
With a bye week in the Wild Card round and no real surprises to-date in the playoffs, the Denver Broncos are our favorites to win the Super Bowl, making the Super Bowl 50.2 percent of the time and bringing home the title 28.2 percent of the time.
Ray Lewis' swan song postseason starts off with a battle of the wits against Colts quarterback Andrew Luck. Both players have a tremendous ability to read the opponent's alignments before the snap. Whichever can fool the other most often will give their unit a major advantage.
From the swamps of Bartow, Florida to the streets of Baltimore, Maryland we have watched the birth of the NFL's first true behemoth.
How cool would it be for UCLA fans to be able to sit in their own section at USC's Coliseum? Wouldn't all the Baltimore Ravens fans out there enjoy sitting with fellow purple and black fans at a Pittsburgh Steelers game at Heinz Field?
To have Big Ben out against the Ravens just makes this loss hurt that much more, especially because it was a game the Steelers definitely could have won.
More than halfway through the season, we have a pretty good idea of who the powerhouses are. The road to New Orleans is looming upon us and we'll see what teams are on the fast track.
The damage to the first three weeks of play has already been done. Let's end this lockout now before the whole season is ruled to be a sham.
Defending free speech is easy when everyone agrees with the speech -- it's defending odious and reprehensible speech that is always the harder path. More on this subject next week.
The exercise of celebrity free speech is one of diversity's most powerful weapons. The case of NFL Baltimore Ravens player Brendon Ayanbadejo, a celebrity only by virtue of being a professional football player, has amplified this point.
Now don't get me wrong, Flacco is a decent quarterback. He's taken the Ravens to the AFC Championship Game twice in his first four seasons, and has at times shown brief flashes of brilliance. But let's hold off on calling him elite.
The Cleveland Browns have a new owner and a new QB, the Steelers have new faces on the offensive line with old results, the Cincinnati Bengals hope to stave off sophomore slumps and the Ravens are still trying to make it over the hump.