By: Shawn Davis
On Sunday, seven of the 14 games were decided on the final possession. How can you not be excited about that? It’s a stark realization that getting a sandwich needs to wait until the game is completely over – but I’m guilty of the crime because I was getting my plate together and missed the game-winning field goal in Denver. The Broncos are winning for me in my pick-league and had I went with them eight weeks ago, I’d definitely be in the top-10.
Since the regular season has three weeks left to play I’m going to tinker with the format of this column to highlight the games that matter – and mask the cloud of depression that’s begun hanging over me because as energized as I am for the playoffs, it means the season is ending. I don’t feel this way about any other sport!
CLE 3 @ PITT 14; IND 10 @ BAL 24; TB 14 @ JAC 41; ATL 31 @ CAR 23; NE 34 @ WASH 27; KC 10 @ NYJ 37; PHI 26 @ MIA 10; NO 22 @ TENN 17; MINN 28 @ DET 34; HOU 20 @ CINN 19; SF 19 @ ARI 21; CHI 10 @ DEN 13; BUF 10 @ SD 37; OAK 16 @ GB 46; NYG 37 @ DAL 34; STL 13 @ SEA 30
So I’m watching the Sunday night game and I was elated that the second half was played in that manner that I was because I feel asleep in the second quarter. Not because I was bored – the linguine and pork loin knocked me out. At halftime I got myself together and I was glad that I was able to shake off the food coma to see what was about to take place. After Dez Bryant caught a 50-yard touchdown to put the Cowboys up 34-22 with 5:41 left to play, I laughed out loud.
Why? The blown coverage by Corey Webster and Antrel Rolle for one; additionally, I said “Eli is going to find a way to bring the Giants back.” As I watched the ending unfold, I wasn’t surprised at all and I expected the Cowboys to exit their building with the loss. It is about time that people recognize that Eli Manning is one of the best quarterbacks in the league, but I knock him because there’s no way they should have dropped games to the Seahawks, Redskins and a Vick-less Eagles team. He’s often overlooked and I think those days may be over for good. Sunday was his third 400-yard passing day of the season and he has the Giants in control of the NFC East (at 7-6) and in control of their march towards the postseason.
Had Marion Barber stayed in-bounds, the Broncos have little-to-no chance of getting the victory, but that didn’t happen and we all know the final outcome. Tim Tebow shatters conventional thought of how the position should be played. Look at this: Over the first three quarters of the contest he was 3 of 18 but in the fourth quarter (and overtime) he went 18/24, 191 yards, 1 td/0 ints. The Broncos are more than a Hollywood type of story – they lead their division and have a formula that leads to postseason success. They defend well, can run the ball efficiently and physically, their quarterback does not turn the ball over and if the game is close they are unfazed by the circumstances. I’m not saying they will win the Super Bowl or anything but all you have to do is make the tournament and see what happens, right? I’m riveted.
I liked how both New Orleans and Detroit played on defense to hold on for victories – although the referees missed a game-changing call on Minnesota quarterback Joe Webb as he got his facemask yanked and there was no flag thrown at all. The Lions definitely go lucky on that one; what a gift! It’s great that the league pushed to have key division games late in the season as it provides great theatre for shaping the playoff format and it keeps the fans interested. Let’s face it; there have been several years where the last 3-4 weeks have been nothing more than noise coming out of the television.
Todd Haley was fired as head coach of the Kansas City Chiefs after leading a squad of overachievers to the division title last year, losing his core players to injuries this year – and I’m sure getting plastered by the Jets on Sunday didn’t help. So making the playoffs in year two on the job couldn’t keep him employed for this bad one; that wasn’t totally his fault? If that’s the criteria for getting the axe then why is Mike Shanahan still leading the Redskins into ineptitude? Haley was doomed – oddly enough – for making the postseason in his second year at the helm because they entered this one with expectations they wouldn’t be able to reach, especially when Jamaal Charles, Eric Berry and Tony Moeaki were lost for the season. Blame him for that too, I suppose. Tony Sparano was also fired from the Dolphins head coaching position. To all the front-office types: The last time I checked continuity helps an organization move forward; the Roman Empire wasn’t built in one day. I’m just saying.
Some footnotes: Pittsburgh continues its push towards the playoffs while being (mostly) overlooked by the talking-head television conglomerates; the Jaguars scored 41 when they’ve had trouble hitting 14 in most of their contests; T.J. Yates!; Atlanta rallied to beat the Panthers – and I’m still confused as to what they have; Green Bay is 13-0 but have lost Greg Jennings for 2-3 weeks; the 49ers tripped in Arizona and now have the Saints looking them eye-to-eye for the second seed in the NFC; Indy is 0-all season; I went 11-5 with my picks this week, but I’m still (barely) in the top-20.
I’ll be back next week.
Photo: Marion Barber; wgnradio.com