December 21st, 2010

Some football thoughts.

In Philadelphia: "Fly, Eagles, Fly"
In New York: "WHY, GIANTS, WHY?"

Before I get to the NFL related stuff, one brief thing on Saturday's college games. Well, not so much on the games themselves as the coverage. ESPN's Capital One Bowl "Week" started yesterday. By my reckoning, that week will last more than fourteen days.

And now, on to the professional ranks...

Prior to Sunday, the Lions last won away from Ford Field on October 28, 2007. On that day, I still had 569 days left of active duty in the Navy. I was living in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, with the great J. Raymond. I was only two weeks removed from Grand Bonecoming...2007 (my first visit back to Ithaca in nearly five years). And of course, the Lions hadn't yet established a new mark for futility by going 0-16 in 2008.

The Bills have gone 4-2 after starting 0-8. They have done this under the direction of Ryan Fitzpatrick, who no doubt fought fiercely whilst he was at Harvard a few years ago.

A first round NFL playoff game will be hosted by a team with at least eight losses (the winner of the NFC West). That team's opponent is guaranteed to have at least nine wins, and most likely ten or more. There's really no good solution to this problem, and it's likely to be a rare occurrence, so the best course of action is likely to accept this undesirable outcome and hope it doesn't become commonplace.

I took delight when Brett Favre first ended his career on an interception in the 2007 NFC Championship Game. I did so again when he blew it at the same stage two years later - again, on a pick. But for him to rise from the ashes last night, only to be taken out with a concussion? Despite all his personal and professional flaws, he is still a great quarterback, and it's too bad that he went out that way.

On the subject of concussions, I'd like to remind that Packers that Aaron Rodgers has had his second one of the season. They should be cautious about this and consider his health when deciding whether to have him active against the Giants. And speaking of the Giants...

GOD, that was awful. As it happened, it felt like the 2009 NCAA lacrosse championship game. That is to say that pessimism set in midway through, and I knew the wheels had come off with no hope of repair. On Sunday, when the Eagles pulled within 31-24, I suddenly became convinced that the Giants would not win. But I thought there would at least be some OT. Maybe the Giants would even get the ball in said overtime session. But wait...DeSean Jackson. That was a dagger with a serrated edge - a dagger twisted in by Jackson pulling the Madden maneuver of running along the goal line even though time had expired.

I did initially want to give punter Matt Dodge the axe, but I'm okay with hanging on to him. This collapse was caused by one thing, and one thing alone: the Giants' failure to start Cornell alumnus Kevin Boothe on the offensive line. All right, I know that had nothing to do with it. The blame for this can be spread throughout all three phases of the game. The offense couldn't get first downs, the defense allowed everyone in a white jersey to get free in the secondary, and the special teams have been previously discussed.

I handled it better than other sports collapses in the past, due not only to age and experience, but the Giants' being only three seasons removed from a championship. Sunday night also felt much like Week 16 last year, when the Giants failed to show up for their final game at Giants Stadium against the Panthers. I felt that they really didn't deserve to go to the playoffs after that, and I kind of feel the same way now, even with two left and a "win-and-in" game at Lambeau next week. But of course, just when I think I'm out, they'll pull me back in...and it'll happen about 4 p.m. Eastern time on the day after Christmas.