A game of inches, obscene noises, and definitive silence.
And this, too. (And it’s not a replay.)
Um, and this one, too.
And this, too.
Jets 22, Steelers 17. “Emmanuel!! Wait! Dont’ leave me this way. I luuuuuuuv you, man! Don’t go! I need you.”
No whistles. No biggie. It all evens out in the end.
In other news:
- Eagles 38, Giants 31. WOW!! Michael Vick and DeSean Jackson author what has to be the worst loss in New York Giants history. Giants fans, when pressed, may immediately conjure up Joe Pisarcik’s fumble that led to Herman Edwards’ recovery. It was, after all, dubbed The Miracle at the Meadowlands, and it led to the V-formation where QBs kneel at the close of games. That Giants team was awful and headed nowhere. This team is a few years removed from a Super Bowl victory over the vaunted New England Patriots. This team was at home, playing for a division title, and leading 24-3, and is/was possessed of a dynamic two-headed rushing attack that should have salted this game away. The Giants didn’t get it done. Instead Vick made one incredible play after another, demoralized the defense, inspired his team, and set the stage for DeSean Jackson’s historic punt return touchdown. Fade to black! The schedule makers could care less. Up next, the equally desperate Green Bay Packers at Lambeau.
- Patriots 31, Packers 27. Who knew that Dan Connolly could run THAT fast? The Packers didn’t know it either because none of their speed guys closed the gap with much success until Connolly rumbled about 50 or 60 yards. The Patriots starting right guard took a short kickoff return 71 yards into the Red Zone to keep New England close (they trailed 17-7 at the time) before halftime. That has to be one of the most amazing plays I’ve ever seen. Amazing. No wonder this team finds a way to win every week.
- Ravens 30, Saints 24. Ray Rice turned the Saints into roadkill. There is a reason why the Saints are not in the conversation of the elite teams in the league. Sure, they belong in the conversation, but this year’s edition of the defense isn’t making the same opportunistic plays as the ’09 version. Darren Sharper isn’t redefining games with 90 yard interception returns. It’s been tough sledding. Up next, powerful Michael Turner and the Falcons. The ATL-iens will be out in force. If the underutilized Ray Rice can hit the Saints for 233 yards, what should Gregg Williams expect from “The Burner”?
- Colts 34, Jaguars 24. Peyton lays down the Boss track, again. The Colts looked to be restoring order with this win over the up-and-down Jaguars. What happened to the Jags running game? Donald Brown had a great performance. Jim Caldwell and company are not quite where they’re used to being, but they are going to be called their own shots in Weeks 16 and 17. That’s all they could ask for. Manning won’t be benched after a half in those games this season. Change is good.
Hell No’s and Stops!!:
Bruce Arians, Offensive Coordinator, Pittsburgh Steelers. Trailing the New York Jets 20-17 in the 4th quarter — backed up to your own 2-yard line, you choose to call an inside draw to Mewelde Moore. This decision, ill-conceived as it was, led to a Jason Taylor safety when Moore was dragged down in the end zone. Did Arians run this play because the play of 3rd string left tackle Jonathan Scott has been spectacular? Not likely. Did he think he might fool the veteran Taylor? I hope not. Arians’ preference is for “tricky” and “cute.” This approach does NOT work. The Steelers need to fire him. Arians make decisions that move the Steelers away from their strength and power. Rashard Mendenhall rushed for 100 yards, but only had 17 carries. Pittsburgh takes its most dangerous ball carrier OFF the field in the games biggest moments. They’re losing close games because of it. In key moments vs. the Saints, Ravens, Patriots, and Jets, Mendenhall has been on the bench while Arians called cute and tricky plays with Mewelde Moore and others. To his credit, he did get the ball to the powerful Isaac Redman who broke tackles to defeat the Ravens a week ago — but that play was the exception that proves the rule.
Dan Carpenter, Kicker, Miami Dolphins. Say it ain’t so, Dan. Carpenter went 0-4 on field goals as the Dolphins fell to 7-7 (and 1-6 at home). Buffalo won the game 17-14 as Carpenter’s last miss kept the Miami from forcing overtime. Year 1 of the Grand Brandon Marshall Experiment is over because Year 2 of the Grand Chad Henne Experiment didn’t work out so well. Back to the drawing board…and back to the beach!!
Ken Whisenhunt, Head Coach, Arizona Cardinals. Carolina 19, Arizona 12. Is this what’s become of Steelers West? It may be time to close the chalet and get the Sunshine Boys back to work in icy conditions. This team has lost its way. How much time to you have left before you’re the new offensive coordinator of the New York Giants? Remember when Whizz was getting this kind of love from super-hot Melyssa Ford?
I’m picking Arizona 20, Pittsburgh 13 for a few reasons: Ken Whisenhunt, Ken Whisenhunt, Ken Whisenhunt. He was with Steelers last year or year before as offensive coordinator so he has a clear idea as to how they operate as a team. If anyone remembers when Jon Gruden left the Raiders and Tampa Bay played Raiders next year in Super bowl? I think there is room to believe there will be a similar outcome. Also, Hines Ward is hurt and not playing at full capacity, I think he had the same injury last year and could barely walk and, truthfully, Arizona’s offensive weapon is their strong and, recently and seemingly unbeatable combination of running backs and receivers: Larry, Fitzgerald, Anquan Boldin, Hightower, Edgerrin James, Steve Bresden. Add the combo of Antonio Smith and Darnell Dockett and Arizona’s defense is definitely a problem. Even though the Steelers have No. 1 defense in league, I don’t think its gonna be enough but I don’t think it will be a blowout, either. All in all, the Cards are the underdog going up against the mighty Steelers, 2005 Super bowl Champs. The Giants were last years underdog against the mighty Pats. We all see what a strong factor resiliency plays in game winning. Shout out to Kurt Warner. Amazing comeback. (Who knew her football rap was sooo strong?)
Tom Coughlin, Head Coach, New York Giants: The onside kick was coming. I sat in a bar and listened to patrons scream (before the kick), “Watch out for the onside kick!” With a 31-17 lead in the 4th quarter, the Giants should have expected a measure of desperation from the Eagles. They did not and the rest is history: epic, painful history. Don’t blame the punter, Psycho T. It shouldn’t have come to that.
Kudos and Props:
Matt Cassel, QB, Kansas City Chiefs. Coming off an appendectomy, Cassel performed well enough to lead the Chiefs to an inspired win over the upstart St. Louis Rams. The battle for the hearts and minds of Missouri went to Kansas City. The tandem of Jamaal Charles and Thomas Jones proved too tough for the Rams. It may prove too tough for a high seeded team from the AFC East or AFC North who has to take an icy January trip to Arrowhead.
Tony Gonzalez, TE, Atlanta Falcons. Gonzalez has caught 60 or more passes for 12 seasons. Amazing stuff. It is ironic that in the season where the promise of the Atlanta Falcons is front and center, his former team, the Kansas City Chiefs are enjoying a resurgence of their own — in a new stadium. The odds are long for the Chiefs to make it to Dallas, but the Falcons are looking stronger every week. Up next, a date with the defending champs in the Georgia Dome.
Michael Vick, QB, Philadelphia Eagles. Before yesterday, my MVP vote was squarely cast for Tom Brady because of all that he has done to stabilize and elevate the performance of the New England Patriots. My one reservation about voting for Vick was that Brady has played the full season as a starter, and has not been injured. However, the Eagles have played and won in such spectacular fashion with Vick at the helm that MV7 is beginning to tear away at that argument. Not many QBs could have come back from a 21 point deficit at the Meadowlands. Given the way this season has played out, Vick may be the only one. At the end of the season, when MVP votes are cast, he may find himself standing alone all over again.