Sunday, December 30, 2007

So, our long national nightmare drags on. The Patriots are still undefeated. The Giants did manage to play surprisingly well. I have never had much faith in either Tom Coughlin or Eli Manning, so I went into the bar to watch last night's game without a lot of hope. And the Giants played just well enough to get me excited, only to pull the rug out from under me when they eventually collapsed.

There are some encouraging signs. Tom Brady set the single season passing TD record. Randy Moss set the single season receiving TD record. The Patriots set the single season scoring record. And they became the first team to go through a sixteen game regular season without losing. And in all of that I can still find some positive aspects.

First, the last two QBs who set the single season passing TD record did so in seasons which did not culminate in championships. Then there's the fact that Jerry Rice set the single season record for TD receptions in a season in which the 49ers didn't win the Super Bowl. And the last two teams that set the single season scoring record (the 1983 Redskins and the 1998 Vikings) failed to win the Super Bowl. Not only that but the suffered embarrassing losses (the Raiders blew the Redskins out in the Super Bowl and mighty Minnesota lost to a terrible Atlanta team at home in OT in the NFC Championship Game).

It is true that this season for the Patriots has been utterly without precedent, from the head coach being mired in the most inexplicable scandal since Watergate (why, by the way, did Nixon even bother breaking into the DNC offices? He went on to win 49 states, were his preliminary polling numbers that out of whack?) to the 16-0 finish. But only one team has finished a regular season undefeated and gone on to win it all since the days of the Decatur Staleys and a ten team league. That was the 1972 Dolphins. There were two Bears teams in the late 30s and early 40s era that went undefeated but lost the NFL Championship Game.

I guess it depends on perspective. One can see history and karma being full square behind this Patriots team, or one can see history and karma setting a massive ambush for this mob of cocky nitwits. And based on the crowd at the bar last night, I get the sense that very few people deserve a comeuppance more than Pats fans. I actually overheard a guy at the bar refer to Mangini as "Mangina." And he seemed to be one of the more enlightened and articulate Pats fans in the place.

Far more vexing at the moment was the crime against aesthetic sensibilities perpetrated by the Dallas Cowboys this afternoon in the nation's capital. What the hell happened there? Did Jerry Jones forget the shipment of Diet Pepsi Max? Did he finally grab the headset from Jason Garrett and take the helm? I know the weather was frightful, but with the way they played you'd think that none of the Cowboys had ever seen rain before in their lives.

Having said that, I am not too nervous about their chances to advance to the Super Bowl. After all, most of the same people who are hyping the dangers of facing the Redskins in the playoffs were sitting there around Thanksgiving time telling us exactly how dangerous the Minnesota Vikings would be in the playoffs. Funny how that ended up working out these last few weeks.

I suppose it is unfair to dismiss the Vikings at this point. After all, they do still have the potential to surprise a few teams this postseason. I imagine they just might be able to rush onto the field in Seattle or Pittsburgh as though it were Wrestlemania. Or they could really impress the other guests at whatever resorts they will visit while the teams that actually made the playoffs are busing playing this January.

I would like to see the Redskins win next week. Even before I earned the ire of a few losers who root for the Seahawks, I didn't much care for the team. I just didn't like the way the team and the fans reacted to the bad calls in the Super Bowl two seasons ago. It's not as though they would have been so interested in the pure technical art of officiating a professional football game had the calls gone in their favor. Plus Matt Hasselbeck is a bald whiner and a proud product of Boston College.

I just don't see it happening. Todd Collins has been a great story so far and they have the sympathetic angle covered because of the tragic death of Sean Taylor. But that sort of thing only takes a team so far in the playoffs. I remember back in 1991 when Mike Utley was paralyzed playing for the Lions and his thumb up gesture as he was carted from the field galvanized the team for its stretch run. They made it all the way to the NFC title game, but it all came to a crashing halt against the Redskins under the first Gibbs administration.

Incidentally, that was also the year that the Falcons latched on to the MC Hammer song To Legit to Quit. Of course, like so many of my digressions, this has no real point. But they rode the momentum of that dreadful song and the pointless human interest story it generated for nearly two months. Fortunately, they rode the momentum right into the divisional round in old RFK Stadium and the Redskins crushed them 56-17. I really don't know why I bring that up, except that it is on my mind right now, and (at least to me) moderately amusing.

What really concerns me about the Redskins going forward is their defensive backfield. This is a trifle indelicate, considering I've already mentioned that their Pro Bowl caliber safety was murdered in the not too distant past. But I just don't see them being able to contain the Seahawks vastly overrated group of wide receivers. Stopping the Cowboys today, with TO on the sidelines and an understrength Terry Glenn trying to get some game action prior to the playoffs in a driving rain storm is one thing. Holding down Bobby Engram and Nate Burleson in front of the even more massively overrated 12th Man is a whole different story.

I will, I think, be posting more about the playoff matchups as we get closer to game time next weekend. I also have to collect my thoughts tomorrow to see if I can find a way to talk myself into a plausible scenario which ends in Illinois beating USC in their first bowl game since 2001. It's definitely doable, but I have to consider the ramifications of the SIRSN jinx, which has claimed more victims in the last 18 months than the SI jinx has in its lifetime, I think.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...'re a fucking idiot on any number of levels, aren't you?

How'd that USC prediction turn out for ya, anyway?