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Baltimore Sun

About last night, dear

The Colts and Cowboys got a dose of the bitter medicine the Ravens had to take last year, having a great season and then losing their first playoff game.

For a day, the 2004 draft day trade that saw Eli Manning become a New York Giant and Philip Rivers (along with Shawne Merriman and Nate Kaeding the next year) become a Charger worked out for both sides.

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Manning is finally shedding the loser tag with back-to-back road playoff wins, including yesterday's efficient performance against the Cowboys. And Rivers, working without star running back LaDainian Tomlinson and an injured Antonio Gates, carried enough of the load -- before getting hurt himself -- to stun the Colts.

More importantly to Ravens fans -- and fans across the league -- the end of playoff teams' seasons is likely to get things moving as far as head coaches are concerned. The two Dallas assistants, Jason Garrett and Tony Sparano, are now free to make their moves as would be the Colts' Jim Caldwell. In addition, the possibility that Tony Dungy will retire might mean that there's another job open.

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The expectation is that Miami soon will name Sparano its head coach.

And in the process of the playoffs going as they are, particularly with the New York Giants' success, another head coaching candidate is emerging. That would be New York defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo. Spagnuolo's name has already been linked to Atlanta. Interestingly, if the Giants go all the way to the Super Bowl, Spagnuolo's unavailability may work against him as teams get impatient to fill their job openings.


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