22 January 2007

2006 Season Conference Championships Recap

In attendance: Ex-Navy Cheesehead, Shoegal, Chef Spouse. The stalwarts.

Menu: Shrimp etouffe and champagne in honor of the Saints. For all the good that did. Also ExNCH made a cake! And Shoegal brought shrimp cocktail and fresh cherries (plus the bubbly). So at least we were well-provisioned.

ARGH! OK, I seem to have come up with a sure-fire sports betting plan: whatever team I pick, you should bet the mortgage payment on the other guys.

THE GOOD

First of all, it was perfect football-watching weather here in DC. It started snowing about 2 hours before kickoff of the NFC game, so we built a fire in the fireplace and opened a bottle of nice Australia shiraz. Unfortunately, the snow meant that the crew left early in the AFC game, which was a shame because the REALLY good thing was...

The Colts/Patriots game. Wow, was that one hell of a game! Better, I'll wager, than the Super Bowl will be (which means you should immediately bet the college fund that the Super Bowl will be a barn-burner, too). And it was not at all what I expected. I thought the Pats would stomp the Colts. Which they did. For the first half. And then the Colts rolled out of the locker room like their pants were on fire. Tony Dungy must have given them an amazing halftime pep talk. Or maybe he started threatening to trade people to the Raiders? Either way, it worked like a charm! Peyton Manning finally overcame his playoff curse. Maybe he'd be willing to share his secret with Big 5? How do you think D-Mac would feel about sacrificing a goat or two?

THE BAD

That would be the Bears/Saints game. As Life-Long Eagles Fan Mom observed, the Bears started celebrating at the beginning of the 4th quarter. That would be because the Saints apparently thought the game was over at the half and went home. By the beginning of the 4th, the only thing that would've saved the game would have been if a bolt of lightning had hit the Bears' bench and killed them all, or at least knocked them all unconscious. And even then, it would've been close.

THE UGLY

The Pats' Reche Caldwell. Otherwise known as #87, Mr. Alligator Arms, and "Hey, That's the Guy Who Lost Us the AFC Championship Game! GET HIM!" He is SOOO fired. You-Two-Calm-Down-or-I'm-Turning-Off-the-TV Dad noted that he probably won't have a job next season. Next season? I'm thinking he'll be out of work by next week. At least he's practiced his look of sheer terror, which will come in handy when he returns to the Boston area. Assuming he's brave enough to do that.

The officiating at Soldier Field. Excuse me, but Michael Lewis was down. Are the zebras blind, or are they just unfamiliar with their own rules? We definitely bore the brunt of what seemed to be some suspiciously homer-ish officiating last week. It was sad to watch the Saints go down partially as a result of the same flaw (although turn about is fair play).

But it wasn't just the officiating. The Saints couldn't stop Thomas Jones and couldn't get Deuce McAllister, who ran for 4,973 yards against us last week, started. They enjoyed a brief few minutes of brilliance on either side of the half (Marques Colston's TD reception and Reggie Bush's beautiful 88 yard TD scamper), and then they just completely fell apart. To quote King Kaufman:

"I would argue that the turning point came before that safety. Starting with 11:25 remaining in the third quarter, the Saints, down 16-14, had driven from their own 18 to the Chicago 29, where they bogged down with three straight incomplete passes. That left them facing a 47-yard field-goal attempt.

That was beyond the range of their placekicker, John Carney, so kickoff specialist Billy Cundiff came on. Now, it's bad enough to spend a roster spot on a placekicker and a kickoff specialist, worse when your placekicker can't manage a 47-yard boot, and worse still when the kickoff specialist can't either. Cundiff's kick was short, and the Bears took over at the spot of the kick, the Chicago 37. "

And now two teams I don't care about are in the Super Bowl. Bleh. At least I'll be more fun during our Big Game party, since I won't be in a panic that my team's going to lose.

And finally, I had to witness Peyton Manning, Mr. Asshat in defeat, be all Mr. Charming "Gee, aren't the Patriots a swell team, Mr. Reporter?" in victory. I hate it when he gets to pretend that he's not 2 seconds away from tossing his entire team under the bus. If the Bears manage to upset the odds and win in two weeks, you just wait and see...

And some breaking news: Parcells apparently decided that he just couldn't stand any more Captain ME! antics - or maybe he's just not up to coddling a QB who's bound to start 2007 emotionally fragile - so he's hanging up his spurs, if I may pun for a moment.


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