Coach From the Couch—A Look Back on the NFL, Week 15
The NFL version of the perfect storm cannot happen anymore
Miami ruined it by beating Baltimore. Sure, it was fun to watch Brian Billick and his Ravens flame out in OT against Miami. But it would have been even better to watch an 0-14 Miami team take on a 14-0 Patriots team and have both strings snapped at the same time.
Unfortunately, it ain’t gonna happen.
Miami went into Baltimore with little hope of winning. Although Baltimore had come within seconds of knocking off New England just a few short weeks ago, they’ve been in disarray for seven weeks.
Losers of seven in a row coming in, the Ravens made it eight, as Matt Stover missed a field goal in overtime that would have won the game. Three plays later, Cleo “makes lemonade from” Lemon threw a 64-yard touchdown strike to Greg Camarillo, and the Dolphins, winning 22-16, are no longer 0-fers at 1-13.
The Ravens drop to 4-10. Ray Lewis dislocated a finger. Cleo Lemon threw for 315 yards. Brian Billick keeps his job. Dogs howl at this odd combination of events...or maybe just because they can.
On the opposite side of the 0-fer coin, New England keeps its zero—as in 14-0.
They took on the Jets in a rematch of the two teams that filmed each other and got mad about it. The strange thing is that the Patriots got fined, were publicly scorned for weeks, and were penalized draft picks while the Jets just got thrown out of the Patriots stadium.
Supposedly, neither team now has film on the other, and the outcome was basically the same whether they had film or not. Patriots win 20-10. Brady and the weather both stunk, Maroney ran for 114 yards.
The Jets fell to 3-11, and all highlight reels of the game are promptly destroyed for no apparent reason other than to put this whole film issue behind us. Years from now, people will look back on this era of cheating, steroids, and controversy and wonder why all our congressmen were focused on such chicanery while the price of gasoline stayed above three dollars a gallon and a person could work at McDonalds and borrow a million dollars for the home of his dreams—while paying a monthly mortgage around the price of a happy meal and borrowing money from a bank who's sole job is getting cheap money from the government, loaning it to people that can’t possibly pay it back, and then getting bailed out by the same government that gave them the money to loan us in the first place, which in theory was our money that we gave them in taxes.
Luckily though, there are no more cheating tapes.
If Elvis were alive today, I am almost positive he would have created a song by this title, and would have performed it prior to an NFL contest during the Super Bowl half time show.
The song would have been appropriate for this time period though. Seven of the eight divisions now have champions. This week, the Colts locked up their division after locking up a playoff spot last week. The Chargers and Tampa Bay laid claim to division titles as well.
The Colts did it in not so stellar fashion. They beat the Raiders 21-14 by scoring a touchdown and a two point conversion with 4:49 to play after trailing 14-13.
The Colts became the first team to ever win twelve games five seasons in a row. That is a lot of football wins! They also clinched a first round bye in the playoffs and have very little left to play for this season as they cruise toward the playoffs.
The Buccaneers clinched in a more stellar fashion. Tampa Bay took on quarterback-less and coach-less Atlanta. They showed no mercy in a 37-3 victory. The highlight of the game was a kickoff return for a touchdown, making it the first EVER for Tampa Bay.
It took 1,865 kickoff return tries for them to take it to the house! That is one scary string.
Tampa Bay clinched the division at 9-5. Atlanta dropped to 3-11. Garcia played the entire game, a good sign for a Buccaneers squad that needs him for the playoffs.
The Chargers did it in grandiose, stellar fashion. San Diego left no doubt that they would be division champions, pounding Detroit so badly you could have had one beer and left the game in the first quarter, confident of victory. They won 51-14.
John Kitna threw five interceptions in an awful performance, low-lighted by three of the interceptions coming on six offensive plays! That is worse than putting the band kid in at quarterback.
San Diego moved to 9-5, and controls the third seed in the AFC. Detroit, after being 6-2, is eliminated from playoff contention at 6-8. Can you say meltdown?
For the Chargers, Antonio Cromartie came up with his 10th interception of the year, setting a new franchise single season record. He wasn’t even a starter at the beginning of the season!
And what about those wild cards?
The Giants, Vikings, Jaguars, and Browns all sat atop the wild card heap coming into the weekend. The Giants took on a Washington Redskins team that almost always makes for a good contest.
Washington pulled off the upset 22-10. The Giants lost Jeremy Shockey for the year with a broken leg. They smell worse than someone with foot fungus wearing the same socks for three weeks straight, and drop to 9-5.
They still lead the NFC wild card at that mark. Washington, with the victory, pulled to 7-7 and sits just outside the wild card picture looking in.
They sit behind who?
Minnesota, that’s who.
Minnesota took on Chicago and squeaked out an ugly win, 20-13. They committed four turnovers, three of them interceptions by Tavaris Jackson, but scored enough to knock the Bears from playoff contention while keeping their own hopes alive. They are now in the last wild card spot in the NFC at 8-6.
Bears fall to 5-9. Chicago held Adrian Peterson in check most of the day, but when it counted, he scored the go-ahead TD on an eight yard run, keeping the Vikings on the inside track, chased by New Orleans and Washington.
What about that AFC race?
Jacksonville continued to impress, knocking off Pittsburgh at Heinz field 29-22. They picked up a huge win on the road, while Pittsburgh falls into a tie with Cleveland for the final division spot left in the NFL.
Pittsburgh holds the advantage in case of a tie after knocking Cleveland off twice this year. The Steelers, to their credit, tied up the game at 22-22 with five minutes left on the clock. Jacksonville was not to be denied however, capping a 73-yard, eight play drive with the final score of the contest.
Jacksonville moved to 10-4 on the season and is virtually a lock for the playoffs. Pittsburgh dropped to 9-5.
Speaking of the Browns: they took on the Buffalo Bills at home in a huge snowstorm, and the scoring reflects the weather. The Browns won 8-0. Buffalo gave up a safety. Phil Dawson kicks two field goals, including a stanchion-hitting 49-yarder in wicked conditions.
Just a few weeks ago, Dawson hit the uprights and had the ball bounce backwards on a controversial field goal against the Ravens. He should definitely be nicknamed "Stantion Man."
Browns hold onto the final wild card spot at 9-5, and are tied with Pittsburgh for the Division. One more win and they wrap up the final spot. They are chased by Tennessee, a team needing some help.
The first round byes are all locked up. The Patriots, Colts, Packers, and Cowboys all have attained the “Get Out of the First Round Free” card, ending all speculation for the rest of the teams and making it impossible for sports reporters everywhere to “examine the possibilities”.
Hooray and bummer.
Jessica Simpson was shown multiple times during the Dallas loss to Philadelphia. I don’t know if she was a jinx or not, but Romo had one of his worst performances of the year.
If Jessica were my girlfriend, and I had a ship, I would be reluctant to take her on it, bikini or not.
Philly has played their hearts out the last few weeks with nothing to show for it, but they finally broke through against Tony Romo and the Cowboys.
Romo put up three interceptions and got no help from the rushing game. Witten, meanwhile, had a tremendous game for the Cowboys, accounting for 113 of their total 214 passing yards.
McNabb returned and showed just enough moxy to finish off the Cowboys 10-6. In a classy and smart move (not terms normally used in regards to NFL players), Westbrook downed the ball on the one yard line instead of running it into the end zone, thus allowing Philadelphia to kill the clock with the knee.
He could have run it in—it counts for seven and pads his stats—but the Cowboys would have gotten the ball back with a chance. By downing the ball, the Cowboys had no chance, and the Eagles won.
Great heads up selfless play—it was fun to watch.
Tennessee kept its playoff hopes alive by keeping pace with the Cleveland Browns. They sit one game back in the wild card hunt after a 26-17 win over Kansas City.
Vince Young threw for two touchdowns in the win. It was the first ever win for Tennessee in Kansas City. Seems like no matter how bad Kansas City is, they still play tough at home. Arrowhead Stadium has a reputation in as being a place that is hard to go into and come out with a win.
Tennessee moved to 8-6, Kansas City fell to 4-10.
Outside and needing a box to stand on
Carolina hung on to its playoff hopes with a 13-10 win over Seattle. Seattle blew any chance it had at a first round bye with the loss. The Seahawks sit at 9-5, while Carolina is the only 6-8 team left with any shot at making the playoffs. The Panthers will need a lot of help—probably from some divine power, to squeak in.
If I am a Carolina fan, I am not betting the farm on a wild card spot. Come to think of it, I wouldn’t even bet a dollar.
New Orleans knocked Arizona out of contention with a 31-24 victory. Drew Brees passed for 315 yards, two scores, and a partridge in a pear tree, saving the Saints' Christmas for another week.
Kurt Warner threw for three TDs in the loss. Nobody scored in the last nine minutes of the contest. If you needed to chew your nails because they were too long for Monday morning, this was not the game to watch.
The Saints march into week 16 at 7-7. Arizona is eliminated from playoff contention at 6-8.
Who is the genius: Kubiak or Shanahan?
Gary Kubiak has been the offensive coordinator for Shanahan since dirt was clean. Now as a head coach, he takes his old boss to the house with a 31-13 win.
Shanahan and the Denver Broncos haven’t been the same since Kubiak left, registering back-to-back disapointing seasons. Houston is now 7-7 and matches its best win total in franchise history, while Denver falls to 6-8.
Is San Francisco versus Cincinnati a pro game?
In a matchup reminiscent of throwing two accountants into the octagon for a no-holds barred karate match, the 49ers won 20-13. Both teams' records are too awful to mention.
Green Bay beat St. Louis 33-14. By winning, they tied the Dallas Cowboys for the best record in the NFC. Although the Cowboys hold the tiebreaker, one slipup by them and they may play the NFC championship game on (drumroll)...the frozen tundra of Lambeau Field—something they do NOT want to happen.
Green Bay is 12-2. St. Louis? 3-11. The reason this was the best game of the week (in case you’ve been asleep under a rock somewhere) is that Brett Favre set the all-time passing yardage mark by eclipsing a man who's name rhymes with Gran Turino—yes that is correct, Dan Marino.
Favre has now thrown for 61,405 yards in his career and counting. Between the string of games he’s played in and throwing for that many yards, it's pretty easy to assume Brett Favre is the best quarterback ever.
It has been quite a pleasure watching him over the years, just as it was watching Marino as well. Congratulations Brett. You are a class act and pretty good at football too!
And so ends another week in the NFL. If you are a dog, the playoffs are just a butt sniff around the corner.
Meanwhile, more games continue to get played without ever being seen by human beings, as the NFL Network broadcasts somewhere over the rainbow, but not on cable.
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