Late For Work 5/30: Toughest Playoff Loss To Overcome?

Troy Smith trying to revive career. Polamalu thinks about end. Solution to Rice deal.

Posted by Sarah Ellison on Wednesday, May 30th, 2012 at 9:02 am | Categories: Late For Work, Sarah Ellison

Toughest Playoff Loss To Overcome?

Ravens fans have been in mourning since that fateful day in January when the potential game-winning touchdown pass hit the ground and the game-tying field goal sailed wide left.

As gut wrenching as the loss was, is it possible that another NFL team suffered a worse playoff ending?

That’s the question SportsCenter posed, eliciting plenty of buzz on our Ravens Twitter account.

“Which Team has the toughest playoff loss to overcome from last season? @steelers, @packers, @49ers, @Ravens?” tweeted SportsCenter.

You know the story behind the Ravens’ loss to the New England Patriots.

Three other teams have pretty sad stories as well. Consider this:

Steelers 23, Broncos 29 OT, Wild-Card Round

The Steelers suffered what they consider an embarrassing loss in sudden-death overtime of the wild-card round after being heavily favored. Adding to the embarrassment was being beaten by a team that they believe they should have beaten. Tim Tebow had just 10 completions the entire game, but the one that mattered most was hitting receiver Demaryius Thomas on a slant in overtime. Thomas took it 80 yards to end the game, leaving the Steelers completely stunned.

Linebacker Lamar Woodley: “What gives you motivation is not playing in the Super Bowl, getting eliminated in the first round, losing to a team we had no business losing to. It’s a team we should have easily beat. That’s motivation, watching teams play the week after us.”

Giants 37, Packers 20, Divisional Round

The defending Super Bowl XLV champions were riding a magical 15-1 season, the best in team history. Despite a record-setting offense and earning home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs, the Packers lost in front of a home crowd after a wild-card bye. They believed they could win, as they had already beaten the Giants earlier in the season.

ESPN analyst Teddy Brushci: “For me, the toughest playoff losses to get over are the ones that you fought the entire regular season to get the bye, to get the home-field advantage, to get the playoff game in your house at home and you lose. … When you lose in front of your fans, that’s when it really hurts and you spend an entire offseason thinking about it.”

Giants 20, 49ers 17 OT, NFC Championship

The 49ers have a similar story to the Ravens. The most painful part of their loss was that they blew it. They lost a fumble … during a punt return … in overtime.  Ouch. And like the Packers, it was in front of a home crowd. It wasn’t the way they envisioned their fairy-tale season ending after Jim Harbaugh turned the team around in his first year as head coach from a 6-10 squad to a 13-3 team.

Linebacker Patrick Willis: “You’re in disbelief. It’s like when something happens and you can’t really believe it happened.”

In the video below, Bruschi argues that the Packers and 49ers playoff losses are the toughest to overcome because they were at home.

Sorry, I’m not buying that argument. The Ravens have lost in the playoffs at home too. No way did that compare to what happened last season.

Troy Smith Trying To Revive Career

One wonders if former Raven and Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Troy Smith thinks about Lemierre’s syndrome every day.

That was the throat infection he developed in 2008 when he was supposed to compete for the starting quarterback job with Joe Flacco. Smith lost 45 pounds during training camp and never did get a real chance to compete. Flacco then went on to lead the Ravens to the AFC championship as a rookie.

Smith was released by the Ravens the next year, started for the 49ers for six games, and then headed for the Omaha Nighthawks of the United Football League.

Now he’s trying revive his NFL career in Pittsburgh, competing with veterans Byron Leftwich and Charlie Batch for a spot behind Ben Roethlisberger.

The 27 year old knows the odds are against him making the roster. But the Steelers seem to be experimenting and Smith is taking advantage.

”If I’m a guinea pig, so be it,” Smith said, per the Associated Press, ”but I’m a decent guinea pig. …

”I’ve always had to do a little bit more. That’s the only way that I’ve approached working. That’s the only way that I’ve approached life. You get out what you put in.”

Polamalu Thinks About End ‘All The Time’

Just like Ravens future Hall of Fame safety Ed Reed, the Steelers’ safety Troy Polamalu said he thinks about the end “all the time.”

The slight difference is that Polamalu, who is attending Pittsburgh’s OTAs, knows he will play in 2012 while Reed isn’t quite sure.

“People have asked me how many years do you think you can play? My reaction is always, when you live day to day, it’s hard to talk years,” Polamalu, 31, told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.  ”It’s always been my mantra in life, whether it was my first year as a rookie or year 10, I just live day to day.”

Potential Solution To Rice Deal

National Football Post’s Joel Corry, a former sports agent, believes he has the solution to the Ray Rice contract negotiations.

Pointing out that the Ravens have never been stingy with their stars in the past, but acknowledging an Adrian Peterson/Chris Johnson deal isn’t likely, Corry proposes that Rice becomes the third-highest-paid running back in the NFL.

“A more justifiable position to take is proposing a new contract consistent with the average of the top five running back deals, especially since the top five concept is already being used to determine franchise numbers,” Corry writes.

But Corry adds that top-5 money should be determined by the NFL’s previous formula before the new labor agreement, which would take Rice tag number this year from $7.7 million to $9.5 million.

Thus, the final and fair proposal is to give Rice between $9.5 million and $10.9 million a year, says Corry.

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