2 Minute League
Move over 'QB-League (NFL),' there's a new slogan in town. Make room for the '2 Minute-League.'
You'd better not miss the final few in today's NFL tussle or you might miss it all.
On occasion, you'll still see a game that goes according to natural law (SEA v SF, ATL v GB). But more & more frequently (I tag last season's odd Denver - SD MNF bout when Broncos turned tables on SD (35-24) as theoretical start), the NFL's Sunday slate will be filled with game-scores that flip like a light-switch and momentum swings that'd make Vincent Price wink & nod in approval ("The Pit & the Pendulum" ('61)).
Marvin Lewis, speaking after his squad hung-on to top the Colts who put up 28, 2nd half points: "We've got some corrections to make, which is always true (NFLN)." Wrong. Corrections, Marv? Some things should be down pat by W14, like knowing how to close the deal. This permissible attitude may be what's behind the late-game swingers where the likely loser abruptly recalls how to play while would-be winner suddenly goes blank.
"The (Winston) Man"
The pro game's got no monopoly on thick-headed reporters (and their handlers).
Following FSU's Conference clinching cake-walk victory over Duke, Heisman hoping QB Jameis Winston, feeling gay & relieved in wake of his State Attorney's decision to forego criminal charges in a sex-assault investigation, was peppered with post-game queries by clueless sideliner Heather Cox (ESPN) almost exclusively on the touchy topic.
If I remember right, Cox prodded Winston no less than five times on the legal matter after lulling him with an opening softball. On #5, Jim bit his tongue and then walked like the Marlboro Man, before his frustration might've gotten the best of him. He learns fast.
Scrap the Scrum
You can say it lots a' ways: good things come to those who wait, patience is a virtue, time heals all wounds, but it looks like the Patriots got some pre-Christmas pay-back for that controversial (no-call) in their loss to Carolina. Didn't take that long, either.
Browns had played a blinder with just 2:39 left (26-14) and were poised to pull off upset of Week 14 when New England got a break, a big one, courtesy of the zebras. A sneaky on-side kick, followed by a ticky-tack end-zone interference flag on a Cleveland defender and that's all she wrote for the Orange hats. Even for a neutralite this one was painful.
If there's one play in football whose time has expired (not too keen on tagging QBs with an INT on tipped passes, either (chain of causation)), it's the on-side kick.
Like baseball's 'Batter up!' and NBA's in-bounds, when one team scores, the other gets their shot, plain & simple. It's called competition, sportsmanship. As for NHL, there's so much inter-change, 'who' gets what...when, is pretty moot. Face-off makes sense.
Each team deserves their chance...to get a chance, without goof-ball gettin' in the way.
Congrats to Broncos' veteran kicker Matt Prater who booted an NFL record 64-yarder against the Titans on Sunday. Remember Matt was partially responsible for kick-starting Tebowmania in 2011, deciding near half the games in that memorable win streak.
And for those who say kickers have no place in football, FYI: Kicking has been part of pigskin play dating back before Walter Camp popularized the forward pass. And it's outlasted that former football skill that last predominated in the 1980s, is occasionally displayed today by a select few throwbacks and was popularly known as 'tackling.'
"Shame shame shame...on you (both)"
A regular viewer of NFL Network as their "Game Center," "Scoreboard," "AM" & "Total Access" features offer some of best in pro coverage & commentary, I'm nonetheless staying clear of their late "NFL GameDay Final," finding it's where Sunday's action serves only as springboard for self-serving wise-cracks and often turns giggle-a-thon.
Cases-in-Point: When replaying Prater's kick, Deion Sanders name-dropped former mark holder Tom Dempsey (Saints) outta' respect, then devolution set in. Sanders then began laughing, saying "half a' foot" repeatedly in reference to Tom's birth defect, meaning no jest but still in bad form.
Soon after, LaDainian Tomlinson gave his pick for "Beast" of the day, choosing Eagles' LeSean McCoy and his franchise setting rush performance (217) in Snow Bowl #896 (?) (there've been many, and more to come). Then he fumbled (again?) by adding this: "Who's the guy who held the record? "It doesn't matter." It...doesn't...matter, he said.
Eagles all-time great Steve Van Buren was LaD's "IDM," rushing for 205 in '49, having just died last year and with his memory still fresh at least in this football fans' mind.
On the tube, LT & Deion are often class-acts. But they both need a lesson in NFL history (books make a nice X-mas gift), and then a new "GDF" producer wouldn't hurt.
Cherry Picks Week 15: "Good Grief" Edition
Chicago Bears (7-6) @ Cleveland Browns (4-9): 12-15 Fox 1:00 EST
McCown one of 2013's nice surprises, and Campbell showing signs. Cold gets game-ball in Dallas W and Bears O balanced. Browns press (37S) but lack run, Bears don't & win.
Seattle Seahawks (11-2) @ New York Giants (5-8): Fox 1:00
Giants' season started late Oct with first W. They've been 7-2 since, with best wins vs. MIN & DC. Gulp. Elite Eli gets 1Q to build lead, then watch 'Hawks snatch a W.
New England Patriots (10-2) @ Miami Dolphins (7-6): CBS 1:00 (GOTW)
Tom does NOT walk on water. He does walk between the snowflakes. If Brady's a demi god, what does that make Eli? Gronk's out and TT would've been in, if he'd checked his ego at door (TE). Pats drip cachet & chutzpah, but home-Dolphins got moxie too, and win.
New York Jets (6-7) @ Carolina Panthers (9-4): CBS 4:05
You could see it coming: Cam hangs tite, Cats lose, critics cry, 'Guy's gotta use his bread & butter, his athleticism and run.' Wrong. Run for mercury men is like QB crack, one hit, he won't quit, won't learn (Vick), works a tell and defenders feast. Rex back in '14 (fans profit), Geno gets a medal. Both teams seek early lead, Jets get it, stuff run & win.
Green Bay Packers (6-6-1) @ Dallas Cowboys (7-6): Fox 4:30
It's 100th anniversary year of Vince Lombardi's birth (1913-70) and his battles with Tom Landry's 'boys was second only to Halas' Midway Monsters. Mike & Jason modern versions of both? Sure, why not. But this time, Dallas holds edge, and turf, and wins.
Baltimore Ravens (7-6) @ Detroit Lions (7-6): 12-16 ESPN 8:45
It's MNF so Bush (calf) & Cal (knee) should show, which'd be hunky-dory as champs feeling prideful of late. But like Saints, Lions roar at the home-dome. Detroit wins.
NFL Hunch Line
Photo Credit: A. Baldwin / wc.cca / D. Shankbone / 6-08