Monday, November 13, 2006

NFL Thoughts, Week 10

My NFL second-half-of-the-season resolution is to quit whining about how unpredictable everything is. First of all, unless you’re a fan of slasher movies or porn, predictability isn’t necessarily a good thing. Second, if the NFL is weird this year, the college game has gone completely bizarro. You’ve got Rutgers competing for the national title, while things are so desperate down in Miami that they’ve actually reverted to running the option! (Side note: I forgot how fun the option is to watch! After one of the Canes’ touchdowns, I nearly spontaneously broke into “On Brave Old Army Team.” I especially love how on half the plays, the cameraman guesses incorrectly who has the ball, and then has to furiously pan left or right.) And third, I’ve been pissing and moaning about it for so long I’m starting to bore even myself. It’s similar to how I used to go on and on about how disgraceful it is to have two consecutive Commanders-in-Chief who actively avoided military service; even if it’s true, it gets old. So from now on I’m just going to concentrate on the positives. Here were Week 10’s, in ascending order:

Third place: Michael Vick’s fumble. With no one around him, Vick made an abrupt cut while running, and the football he was palming (dangerously low) ended up bouncing right off the ground and into the arms of the Cleveland defenders. After watching this a few times in super slow-mo, I’m convinced Vick momentarily confused sports and started to execute a cross-over dribble. I honestly believe this was one of those fascinating situations in which one’s freakish athleticism actually costs him. It’s a common occurrence with certain extraordinarily gifted athletes; Bobcats’ high-flying forward Gerald Wallace also occasionally falls victim to this phenomenon. Rather than simply dunking an alley-oop, Wallace will feel a compulsive urge to land with “both feet in bounds” and ends up twisting his ankle.

Second place: Devin Hester’s return—how cool was that? The old, “fake-like-the-play-is-dead-and-then-suddenly-burst-out-running” move. I wonder if he was actually whistling while he did it. It was the NFL equivalent of the “snowball decoy trick” from childhood, in which you pack two snowballs, lob one up in the air slowly to catch your target’s attention, and then peg the second one as hard as you can. This game also had an honorable mention: Giants RB Brandon Jacobs, who had to have been the first player to ever be penalized for impersonating a pregnant woman. The Garden State Giants have certainly been tugging on my heartstrings lately. It was a tough loss but look at all their injuries. Don’t worry, NJ—take my hand, and we’ll make it I swear…

First place: how about the wacky San Diego-Cincinnati game? That was the early televised game down south, and the momentum swung back and forth more often than a drunken cop collapses and vomits on an episode of The Wire. After the Chargers scored point #49 and then nearly blew it, I was actually expecting the camera to suddenly zoom in to catch a gasping Marty Schottenheimer make television history by becoming the first coach to have an on-air cardiac arrest. As if the on-the-field action wasn’t enough, we were also treated to Dan Dierdorf as color commentator. Dierdorf has a dream (or at least a piece of one), and that dream is to single-handedly resurrect the sports colloquialism “piece of.” Most people, if they use it at all, apply “piece of” to baseball only, as in “a good piece of hitting.” Not Dierdorf, who clearly has a very fragmentary view of the athletic mechanics of football. For Dierdorf, one can execute good “pieces of” blocking, running, play calling, and presumably cheerleading, end zone celebrating, and headset throwing.

Offensive Player of the Week: Phillip Rivers. No interceptions, incredible poise, 337 yards and three touchdowns, all on the road? And besides Gates and Tomlinson, look at his primary receivers: Keenan McCardell and Eric Parker—not exactly Rice and Taylor. People should probably quit talking about the Chargers defense and start discussing Rivers as the primary reason San Diego is a good team.

Defensive Player of the Week: I’m not really sure—it certainly wasn’t anyone from the Chargers-Bengals game! I guess I’ll go with Dunta Robinson from the Texans, who had 7 tackles and an interception. Too bad Houston can’t play Jacksonville every week.

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