Sunday was a weird day.
The NFL has seen some interesting days in its long history, but December 16, 2007 has to rank up there as one of the most interesting (from an oddity standpoint). One of the oddest things saw the New England Patriots fail to turn The Mangenious’ New York Jets into jelly with the game instead going the route of a great defensive struggle at 20-10 New England. The New York Giants are doing it again; after starting the year great, they are once again in the middle of a late-season collapse (I thought the Vikings were supposed to do that) helped along by a 22-10 loss to Washington Sunday night. Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts clinched the #2 seed in the AFC with a win over the Oakland Raiders Sunday, but it took them until the final two minutes to clinch that win with a go-ahead—yes, go-ahead—score. So, what was supposed to happen or what people expected to happen on Sunday did, but with some twists along the way.
Favre Breaks Yards Record, Cowboys Self-Destruct
Brett Favre and Tony Romo met once already this season in a game where Favre left early with an injury and Romo pelted the depleted Packer secondary for four touchdowns. However, if they meet again in the playoffs, things will likely be different and a sign of that was shown Sunday.
With Jessica Simpson as his guest, Tony Romo had the worst game of his season minus his five-interception performance against Buffalo earlier this year. Completing only 13 passes and throwing three INT’s on the day, all momentum Dallas had going into the game and all momentum they hoped to gain in the game went out the window. In Romo’s defense, he did injure his thumb early impeding his ball handling ability. It is interesting to note that all three of Romo’s INT’s came on passes intended for Terrell Owens.
For the Eagles, Brian Westbrook made the most profound play of the day. With Philly up 10-6 just before the two-minute warning and with Dallas having no timeouts, Westbrook decided to pass up on a touchdown to give his team a new set of downs and a clock to bleed dry. Westbrook caught a pass over the middle at around the Dallas five and instead of taking it into the end-zone, fell down intentionally at the one yard line giving Philly a first down and allowing them to secure the win. Truly one of the most unselfish plays in football history.
In the case of Favre, he and the Packers kept on rolling Sunday with the St. Louis Rams proving to be no problem. In the fourth quarter, Favre completed a seven-yard pass to Donald Driver breaking Dan Marino’s all-time passing yards record. It was the second of Marino’s records that Favre has broken in 2007 with the all-time pass touchdowns mark falling in September at Minnesota.
Packer kicker Mason Crosby had another big game with four field-goals coming from 44, 50, 25, and 46 yards.
Dallas and Green Bay are now both tied at 12-2 with Dallas still owning the tie-breaker with their win last month. Green Bay plays at Chicago and at home against Detroit to finish the year while Dallas goes to Carolina and Washington to finish the year.
Snow Provides Excitement for Jags, Browns
Snow football makes for interesting football; not interesting in a strategy or play calling way, but in a car crash kind of way, you don’t want to look at it, but can’t help it. That was the case in Cleveland this past Sunday when the Cleveland Browns and Buffalo Bills played in what could only be called “Snow Bowl.” With 40mph winds and gusting snow, Browns Stadium would be painted a snowy white the entire game.
With both passing games reduced to obsolete status, it was the running attacks that would play the biggest part. Jamal Lewis rushed for 163 yards on 33 attempts helping the Browns control the time of possession battle.
However, the winning touch was provided by Browns kicker Phil Dawson who netted field-goals of 49 and 35 yards giving the Browns their only offensive points of the game. The 49-yard kick was a flashback to one that helped the Browns defeat Baltimore last month as the kick sailed into the wind, turned into a brick, and bounced off the back post good, the second time this year that Dawson has hit that part of the goalpost.
The Browns other score came when Bills punter Brian Moorman couldn’t catch a snap and had to kick the ball out of the end-zone for a safety. The Browns won 8-0. Ironically, they produced a snowman on the snowiest game of the year.
The Jacksonville Jaguars got to prove Sunday that offense could survive in the snow.
Through the first three quarters of their 29-22 win over Pittsburgh, the Jaguars were an offensive juggernaut going up and down the field as they pleased producing a 22-7 lead on touchdowns from Ernest Wilford, Reggie Williams, and Dennis Northcutt. David Garrard ended the game 17-33 for 197 yards with three touchdown passes.
However, it would be Fred Taylor who would achieve hero status in this game with 147 yards on 25 carries with the most important 12 yards coming on a touchdown run just before the two-minute warning to complete the day’s scoring and put Pittsburgh that much closer to losing the AFC North to the Browns.
Football has become an oddity over the past few years. This transformation can be directly attributed to the increase in parody in college and pro ball. Now teams that have historically never done that good are not only doing good, but great. However, the one thing that has withstood the test of time and likely always will is the dynasty. Every decade (including this one) has seen a dynasty in pro and college football. In this decade its fairly easy to identify who’s the magic teams in each level: The New England Patriots and USC. These two teams since the beginning of the decade have built their teams to the point where they are now THE powerhouses in their respective leagues/associations. Every year in the preseason the first thing on everybody’s mind is how are these two teams going to do this year? USC has two Rose Bowl and two Orange Bowl wins this decade with one of each giving them a national championship, they also fell three points short of a third national title in their other Rose Bowl appearance. January 1 will mark the Trojans third straight Rose Bowl appearance and fourth in the last five years. They’ve won the Pac-10 or a share of it every year for those five years; that’s a dynasty. The Patriots have three Super Bowl titles in six years and a fourth this year will solidify them as a dynasty even though most have already given them the honor considering they were three points from possibly a fourth Super Bowl last year. In short, these two teams have set the standard of excellence this decade and more so than that, they’re survivors of the surge of new blood in football in this decade.