NFLOL: Week 14
By Sean Keane
Cleveland 13, Pittsburgh 6
Pittsburgh lost their fifth game in a row as America slowly realized that, as much as they dislike Eric Mangini, they hate Hines Ward and the Steelers more. Not since the 18-0 Patriots went down in the Super Bowl versus the Giants have I heard so many people with no particular rooting interest in the winning team left absolutely giddy by an NFL victory. Even Notre Dame haters could enjoy thewin, since Brady Quinn threw for only 90 yards. Although Pittsburgh’s not officially out, it feels like this is the earliest a defending champ has been eliminated from title consideration since Terrell Davis blew out his knee in 1999, or when Mickey had a heart attack right before Rocky fought Mr. T.
New Orleans 26, Atlanta 23
The Saints maintained their perfect season, but one misstep nearly doomed them. Leading by three with two minutes left, they attempted a fake field goal – not the worst idea, but they had backup quarterback Mark Brunell throw the pass. I’d rather have the punter throw the ball on a fake field goal rather than Brunell, who fired the ball out of bounds and Atlanta got a second chance. Meanwhile, Khloe Kardashian talked about her marriage to Life & Style magazine, Lamar Odom averaged eight points a game, and the curse-free Reggie Bush scored three touchdowns for New Orleans.
Green Bay 21, Chicago 14
Aaron Rodgers and the Packers survived a surprisingly tough Bears team and one of the most ridiculous fumbles of the year to continue to 9-4. Rodgers fumbled, recovered the ball, and then fumbled a second time to set up Chicago’s go-ahead TD. He then stepped on a rake on his way to the sidelines, and fell through a huge pane of glass two workmen were walking down the sideline, landing in an enormous wedding cake. Luckily, you’ll never have the game’s most devastating turnover when you’re squaring off with Jay Cutler. Cutler took advantage of injuries to Jake Delhomme and Matthew Stafford and extended his interception lead, the second one giving Green Bay the ball on the 11 and officially eliminating Chicago from the playoffs. You know, there probably aren’t any players Chicago would want in next year’s draft anyway.
Indianapolis 28, Denver 16
Brandon Marshall caught an NFL-record 21 passes (and was targeted an amazing 28 times), more passes than the entire Colts team caught combined. But it didn’t matter, since Indianapolis is unbeatable even when their starting secondary is out. Terrell Owens had the old record, from a game where the Bears triple-covered Jerry Rice in his last game in SF. Third place on the list is Tom Fears, from a game played in 1950, when the forward pass had only been legal for two years, and defensive backs were still allowed to bite, kick, and stab receivers within fifteen yards of the line of scrimmage.
One of Indianapolis’ most important players is Jeff Saturday, who looks like a very tall medieval dwarf, or an undiscovered caveman. I’m leaning towards “caveman,” because his last name sounds like something that the suburban teenagers who discovered him would make up when confronted by authority figures.
“It’s Saturday morning. What is this bearded fellow doing in our yard? And why is he in a three-point stance?”
“That’s our friend Jeff. Jeff…um…Saturday. Yeah, that’s it. He’s really good at making fire and recognizing the zone blitz. Can he stay in our garage?”
“I guess so. But you’re gonna clean up after him!”
Buffalo 16, Kansas City 10
This game counts in the standings, but really, does it matter? Who cares if musical theater kids are cooler than the gamer’s guild, or if the kids who smoke cigarettes outside the auto shop have a better GPA than the kids who smoke pot behind the gym? These teams are losers, and the only time we’ll have to worry about them is if someone elects Matt Cassel homecoming king as a joke, so they can dump a huge bucket of Gatorade and pig’s blood on him at the big NFL dance.
Minnesota 30, Cincinnati 10
Cincinnati seems like a team that would have been a powerhouse decades ago, before indoor stadiums, artificial turf, and women’s suffrage. They have one fast receiver, they like to line up six offensive linemen on every play, and their locker room is filled with anti-Communist propaganda. This year, they play in the AFC North, where everyone plays in freezing-cold outdoor stadiums with chewed-up turf. The other quarterbacks are either too incompetent or too concussed to throw deep, so the Bengals dominate them. While Brett Favre was born in the same time period that the Bengals would dominate, his Vikings still run a 2009 offense, and Cincinnati simply could not keep up.
New England 20, Carolina 10
Randy Moss responded to criticism that he quit after the first quarter last week by quitting two or three plays into the game this week. After the game, Carolina’s Chris Gamble said, “We knew he was going to shut it down … Once you get into him in the beginning of the game, he shuts it down.” Of course, what does that say about Carolina that they still lost by ten points with Moss dogging it? With a motivated Moss, does Carolina lose by 21? 24?
New York Jets 26, Tampa Bay 3
Jon Gruden is the luckiest man in the NFL. With the rickety pirate ship that is the Tampa Bay franchise about to capsize, he was fired by management, and kept his hands cleans of the entire subsequent debacle – huge interception numbers, fired coordinators, the disrespect for Bucco Bruce. He didn’t have to sit through it, nor was he blamed for it, AND, he’s still getting paid by Tampa. Instead of watching Josh Freeman fire ill-advised red zone passes, he spends every Monday night talking up players and fake-laughing with Ron Jaworski, while drawing two salaries. It’s kind of like George W. Bush leaving office right as the recession was about to really sink in; that is, if Hurrican Katrina, the second Gulf War, Enron, and torture scandals hadn’t already happened. I still think W could rehab his image by going on cable and cracking jokes with Wolf Blitzer (the Jaworski of CNN) every week.
Miami 14, Jacksonville 10
Ricky Williams fumbled twice in three plays, and both bounced harmlessly out of bounds. That was the kind of day it was for Miami, who got ahead early, completed a lot of passes in a row, and nursed their lead to a close victory. The three things I like best about Miami are:
1. Ricky Williams
2. That their head coach wears sunglasses, indoors, during his press conferences.
3. Their contribution to knocking the unwatchable Jacksonville Jaguars out of the wild-card hunt. Someone’s got to win that #6 seed, I understand that, but really – anyone but the Jags.
Baltimore 48, Detroit 3
The Ravens destroyed the Lions, and in other news, a lion at the SF Zoo destroyed a raw steak that a zookeeper tossed into his cage. The steak put up a better fight than Detroit. Daunte Culpepper started, and in a moral victory for the Lions, he was not maimed or concussed, though he did cry a little bit on the bench. The Lions’ most spectacular play was a huge hit on Derrick Mason – which was followed by Mason shaking off his separated shoulder and running for a touchdown anyway.
Houston 34, Seattle 7
Now that it no longer matters, the Texans are taking care of business against the dregs of the NFC West. It’s amazing that Jim Mora Junior was selected at Seattle’s new coach a full year in advance, and not even one year in, it seems like a dead certainty that he will be fired. His performance is actually worse than the one delivered by Arnold Schwarzenegger in the movie “Junior,” where he played a pregnant man, which is a scenario more plausible than Seattle returning to the playoffs under JMJ. When asked about his son’s future, former coach Jim Mora, Senior said, “Layoffs? Layoffs??? Yeah, that sounds about right.”
Tennessee 47, St. Louis 7
Chris Johnson still had to carry the ball 28 times in this blowout victory, lending credence to the theory that Jeff Fisher may want to destroy Johnson’s legs even more than he wants to make the playoffs. Kerry Collins got to come in and throw 20 passes after Vince Young left, while St. Louis started a guy named “Null.” There might not be anything that encapsulates the 2009 Rams season more than the fact that they’ll be willfully trusting their future to a man named “Null.”
Washington 34, St. Louis 13
The Raiders were showing signs of life under Bruce Gradkowski. Then, with two minutes left in the second half, Oakland:
– committed three penalties worth 35 on two plays
– allowed a 60-yard touchdown drive in 52 seconds
– followed that kickoff with another ten-yard penalty
– got Gradkowski hurt
– attempted a 66-yard field goal as time expired, which was returned 66 yards by the Redskins.
The rest of the game was JaMarcus Russell time, which meant 17-3 Washington, and a lot of public drunkenness arrests on BART.
San Diego 20, Dallas 17
Dallas put together a 76-yard drive, gaining yardage exclusively through runs, and got stopped at the 1 after running Marion Barber four consecutive times. Someone should tell Wade Phillips that the definition of insanity – and a legal justification for firing – is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. After throwing 55 passes last week, Phillips this time went too much toward the ground game. Like a balding man with a small penis and a $100,000 Ferrari, Wade Phillips was overcompensating.
Philadelphia 45, New York Giants 38
Early in the third quarter, Andy Reid challenged an out of bounds play unsuccessfully, but was more saddened to learn he’d lost the shiny red flag rather than his timeout, which wouldn’t have been used correctly anyway. The real star of the game was Desean Jackson, who is the most dynamic player in the league, but a horrible, horrible touchdown celebrant. It’s sad because he clearly lives for it – slowing down as he approaches the end zone, launching into choreographed dances, spiking the ball early – but the celebrations are never good. Dating back to a high-school all-star game where he fumbled while trying to front-flip into the end zone, Jackson has never celebrated well. He needs to train with Chad Ochocinco in the off-season, or simply realize his limitations and start flipping the ball to the ref instead.
San Francisco 24, Arizona 9
Arizona fumbled seven times, lost five of them, and also threw two INTs. Apparently, some NFL teams can’t deal with the variety of free personal lubricants available in San Francisco. I mean, it might not have been lube – could have been sensual body butter, passion fruit massage oil, stay-hard erection cream, whatever. Non-SF residents may not realize just how slick these fine products can make your hands, and Monday night, the 49ers took advantage. With the momentum they’ve gained from this huge divisional win, the 49ers are going to go to Philadelphia and only lose by 13.