Monday, January 09, 2006

And then there were eight ...

Just like that, four teams that had scraped and scrapped for four months to make the playoffs are ... done. Finished. The Readers' Digest version of the weekend (correct picks get a green bullet; incorrect picks get a red one):

Washington over Tampa Bay: This game was soul-deadening to watch, and it had nothing to do with the action on the field. In their final broadcast together, the ESPN Sunday night crew did what they do best, which is do everything poorly. They missed calls, they missed plays, they didn't know the rules, they described things that didn't happen on the field. Forget the Sean Taylor spitting penalty, which was a confusing situation to start with (though when you go back and watch it, you can clearly hear Mike Carey say Taylor spit on Michael Pittman). All game long, the chuckleheads in the booth wondered why Bucs QB Chris Simms wasn't going to Joey Galloway more. Perhaps because the Redskins' defense was arranged to let Simms throw to anyone but Galloway? A breathless Paul Maguire set us up for one replay by highlighting the huge "lick" we were going to see one player lay on another, then the replay showed that the players didn't even touch. In the fourth quarter, when Simms went to Edell Sheppard in the end zone, all three idiots continued to scream "touchdown" long after everyone at home had seen the back judge signal incomplete, discuss the call with another official, then signal incomplete again. I watched the game on TiVo and fast-forwarded between plays just so I wouldn't have to listen to these guys with their diarrhea of the mouth. The game? No surprise. Both sides hit hard. Tampa made more mistakes. Washington will lose next week in Seattle.

New England over Jacksonville: This is what it looks like when you put a blowout on a timer. If you're going to hold the Patriots to seven points in the first half, you'd better score 20 of your own because they aren't going to sit around and wait for you to catch up. If you can get Tom Brady off his game, you have to keep him there because he'll come back at you hard the second you quit punching him in the mouth. The Patriots can be beaten, obviously, but you either have to get ahead of them early or match them score for score because once you're down by two possessions, it's over. See? Easy!

Carolina over New York Giants: Now, I was aware that the Giants' linebackers had all died and that their secondary was made up of court-martialed GIs and inmates on work-release. I also knew that Eli Manning was at risk of crumbling like a delicate cookie. I even wrote all this stuff down before the weekend. And yet I still picked New York to win. Sure enough, come game time DeShaun Foster is blowing through the Giants' front seven, Manning is throwing more long passes to the Panthers than to his own guys, and Carolina walks away with the first road shutout in the playoffs in 26 years. I blame the officiating!

Pittsburgh over Cincinnati: Oh, how important can one player be? Those of us who picked the Bengals to win failed to take into account the Steelers' secret weapon: Kimo von Oelhoffen. Congrats on the career-defining play, dude. (The name is German: "Kimo" is an affectionate diminutive for "clumsy but well-meaning," and the Oelhoff, plural "Oelhoffen," were a legendary race noted for their ample corporation.) On the second play from scrimmage, the most promising matchup of the weekend evaporated entirely, and Jon Kitna's jolly moonface suddenly filled my TV screen. How long can a team play on raw emotion? Answer: About a quarter and a half. Looking forward to next week, the biggest thing about this game is that it sends the Patriots to Denver, where I have them as the underdog, rather than to Indianapolis, where I'd have them as the favorite.

1 comment:

Rich Lanthier said...

Hey Paul,

happy New year! Don't think I have seen you guys yet... We have to get together soon... You really think the 'skins will lose this weekend no, chance? I think you are probably right, as a thinking man, but wow, that win on sunday was unreal...
Rich