I'm a sucker for the underdogs. I love to see a person or team succeed where and when many thought they couldn't or wouldn't. I love it when David beats Goliath, and I love it when the no-names bring the big names down a notch.
Jan. 2, 2007 - (5) Boise State vs. (11) OU. Everyone thought that even though Boise State had the better ranking that the monsters of OU would beat them down. The Statue of Liberty OT 2 point conversion play still stands as my favorite play of all time - both NCAA and NFL. I have a feeling it will stay that way for quite some time.
But, a recent conversation with a FN friend of mine made me think about some other players and teams that no one thought would succeed as they have.
The Patriots lose their beloved Brady to a season ending knee injury. Here comes Mr. Haven't-Started-a-game-since-high-school, Matt Cassell. Patriot's fans around the world had already written off any chance of going to the playoffs. For the first few games it seemed as though this was going to be undeniably true. But, wait! What's this? Patriots still have a shot at the post-season? No Way!
Of course, several things must happen first. Patriots must beat the Bills in their final game of the regular season. To be honest, I don't really see why that won't happen. Jets must beat the Dolphins.
Speaking of Favre/Jets-Pennington-Dolphins drama, I could not think of a better way to cap off the 2008 NFL regular season, but with more (mellow) drama. The fate of 3 different teams rest on this game. It seems that this is the best climax possible to all the pre-season and season drama. Packers say goodbye to Favre and Jets welcome him with open and eager arms, all the while hoping the door hits Pennington in the butt on the way out. Pennington helps takes the 2007 1-15 Dolphins to the doorstep of becoming the AFC East Champions.
But, when thinking of this game I realized that Pennington and the Dolphins is not the only team with surprising success. The more I thought about these other players and teams the more I realized that I'm actually pulling for them to finally beat the odds they faced at the beginning of the season.
Matt Ryan / Falcons - Not many thought he was the right choice for the Falcons and even fewer of those thought he would be a big part of the success the Falcons have seen this season. Mike Smith - how do you spell unlikely success? C.O.Y.
Kerry Collins / Titans - If Vince can't do it, no one can? Wrong. This isn't the NCAA and you don't play for Texas anymore, Vince. Welcome back Collins and give your defense a big hug. By the way, 102.1 QB rating versus the Steelers? Who knew!
As I already mentioned:
Matt Cassell and the Patriots
Chad Pennington and the Dolphins.
I would love to see all these players and their teams make it to the playoffs. However, I know this is not possible.
How would I prefer to see this play out? Even if you don't care, I'm going to tell you.
I choose to see Pennington take the Dolphins deep into the playoffs more than any of the other teams involved in this scenario. Do I see them winning the Superbowl? No. I'm realistic. But, to see a quarterback the Jets kicked aside in order to obtain the legendary Brett Favre, take the 2007 last place team beyond anything that was imagined before the season started would just be... priceless.
I have a sneaking suspicion that I am not the only Packers fan to wish this for the Dolphins and nasty, nasty things heaped on to Favre.