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Here we are, on the cusp of the NIT Super Bowl with a Final Four match up of some teams who by all accounts, didn’t have too bad of a year. True, they didn’t make the actual playoffs, but this is a great sign of things to come. Our first match up is the AFC NIT Championship game between the Houston Texans and Cleveland Browns.
Both teams had surprisingly good years, even though their seasons did not end in an actual playoff bid. Derek Anderson gave the Browns a quandary that many teams would kill for: leave the reigns for the promising breakout quarterback or hand them over to an even more promising young QB in waiting. No matter which direction the Browns organization chooses, they have a strong foundation on all three sides of the ball to build on and I fully expect them to be a contender for years to come.
The Texans, who were the laughingstock of the league when they drafted Mario Williams over Reggie Bush, are now the ones that are laughing. Williams has proved to be an elite defensive talent who will be the benchmark for that defense for many, many years. A strong defensive showing as well as a great year from newly acquired QB Matt Schaub almost landed the Texans a spot in the playoffs. However, they play in perhaps the toughest division in football in the AFC South and look to only get better in the years to come.
(2) Houston @ (1) Cleveland (20 degrees, flurries, light winds)
Although it was a relatively competitive game at the end of the 1 st quarter, it was then that the Cleveland Browns decided to turn on the jets. The Browns scored three unanswered touchdowns in the 2 nd quarter to make it 28-3 and it was a deficit the Texans would never come even close to recovering from.
Derek Anderson was spectacular with nearly 300 yards, 5 TDs and only one incomplete pass. Although Jamal Lewis didn’t have the best game in the world with only 55 yards, Joshua Cribbs took a 60 yard reverse to the house early in the 3rd quarter to put the Browns up by 32 points.
In the end, the Texans just didn’t appear to even want to be in the game and the final score showed it. The Browns cruise to the NIT Super Bowl 49-20.
Player of the game: Derek Anderson 21/22 284 yards, 5 TDs, 0 INT
On the NFC side of the league the Arizona Cardinals are set to face the Philadelphia Eagles. Arizona, the only underdog seed to advance in the NIT playoffs had a mediocre but promising season. Although young QB Matt Leinart did nothing to wow the fans, the team still has a solid running game and defense to build upon.
The Eagles were arguably the best 8-8 team of the entire year. They showed flashes of brilliance all year long but were too inconsistent in the end to clinch a playoff bid.
(3) Arizona @ (1) Philadelphia (25 degrees, clear skies)
This game remained very competitive through the first half, with the score deadlocked at 7 at the half way mark. It was then that Brian Westbrook did what he has done many times this season: Win the game himself.
A quick 10 points at the start of the 3 rd quarter, thanks in part to Mr. Westbrook put the Eagles up 17-7. The Cardinals did respond early in the 4th with a field goal, but the Eagles would answer back with a Brian Westbrook TD. Another field goal for the Iggles would put them up 27-10 which would end up being the final score.
Player of the game: Brian Westbrook 21 attempts 94 yards, 2 TD – 5 receptions 51 yards
So there you have it. It’s Browns/Eagles in the 2007 NFL NIT Super Bowl. Which probably deserved to get into the playoffs? Maybe they both did, but we will definitvely know who was the best team that got left out of the playoffs in a few short days. Stay tuned!