Monday, December 18, 2006

NFL Thoughts, Week 15

Fortunately, I was actually at a friend's Christmas Party during Sunday’s Panthers-Steelers “contest,” and save for passing by the TV during a few shots of Steve Smith on the sidelines looking suicidal, I was spared the embarrassing details. My only other thought regarding that game occurred afterward, when I learned Mike Rucker tore his ACL: is it just me or is it more often than not that “injury” gets added to “insult,” rather than the other way around?

Anyway, I was back home in time to catch most of the Giants-Eagles gem, and I actually thought it deserved strong “Game of the Week” consideration. The informal consensus seems to be that the Bears-Bucs was Week 15’s best, but a) that one had zero playoff implications (other than the Bears clinched homefield advantage, which was really just a matter of time anyway), and b) it was a great comeback, but not particularly close most of the way through. I’ve heard the Cowboys-Falcons game was good too, but I’m unfortunately part of the 75% of the population that doesn’t get the NFL Network, so for me those were mostly unconfirmed rumors. The Giants-Eagles game, meanwhile, was back-and-forth, close throughout, featured strong defense, and had the added bonus of Jeff Garcia shown wearing a stocking cap for no possible reason except to cover up his baldness. There were also a number of compelling questions raised and answered:

Q: Would the denigrated Eagles run defense be able to stop RB/multimedia conglomerate Tiki Barber?
A: Yes, only 19 rushes for 75 yards for Barber, followed by yet another silly, soul-searching post-game press conference about his loss of love for the game and his glorious destiny as a Fox News commentator.

Q: Has Tom Coughlin clinched the vacant title left by the retired Dick Vermeil for Most Annoying Faces Made By a Coach?
A: He’s still trailing the screw-faced John Gruden, but I have to admit Coughlin’s dopey, incredulous look is closing the gap fast. He’s supposed to be an angry disciplinarian, hence he should frothing and ranting after every one of his team’s self-destructive acts, not looking like a business traveler waiting impatiently on an explanation for why his flight’s been delayed.

Q: How is it possible that The Pursuit of Happyness (sic), Will Smith’s latest shameless Oscar-grab, could be the weekend’s #1 box-office grossing movie?
A: People are stupid.

Q: How much more desperate can Smith get?
A: I don’t think he’s above putting on weight and feigning Parkinson’s disease in order to make Ali II if he thinks it will generate Oscar-buzz. I can actually see the “uplifting” reenactment of Ali lighting the ’96 Olympic torch right now.*

In other news, how ironic that of the two, Jim Mora is actually less likely than Art Schell to keep his coaching job. Earlier in the week, Mora declared repeatedly on local radio that he would take the Washington University head coaching job immediately if he could. Then when his comments aired nationally, Mora spent the rest of the week desperately backtracking, saying his words were taken out of context, and sounding comically similar to a husband explaining to his wife that his fondling of a female coworker was “not serious.” This season Mora has become one of the highest-maintenance coaches in the league—besides this embarrassment, you had his goofy, entirely inappropriate “I am FIRED UP” speech after his team dropped back-to-back games to the Lions and Browns; his hair-brained scheme to play Michael Vick at tailback (also clumsily retracted once it became public); and his overbearing father calling Vick a “coach-killer” on his talk show (really, someone needs to keep the entire Mora family AWAY from microphones). Diva receivers are one thing, diva coaches are another—somewhere, Jim Fassel is whistling his way to Kinko’s, resume in hand.

Offensive Player of the Week: LaDainian Tomlinson. This is probably long overdue, considering Tomlinson’s historic season. He had 199 yards, 2 touchdowns, broke the NFL’s single-season scoring record, and basically turned the Sunday night game into one big LDT love-fest. And what has gotten into Marty Schottenheimer? A fumble-roosky last week, a fake punt this week, Tomlinson lined up at quarterback—all of a sudden, Team Marty-Ball has become the San Diego Globetrotters.

Defensive Player of the Week: a collective award to the entire Titans defense, led by CB Pacman Jones. The Titans defenders had touchdown runbacks of 92, 83, and 61 yards. “Dark Helmet” himself had one of them, plus he returned a kickoff 70 yards for another, all of which made up for an offense that generated only 98 yards.

*Okay, so those last two didn’t really have anything to do with the Giants-Eagles, but it was still a good game.

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