08 January 2007

2006 Season Wildcard Weekend Recap

Eagles v. Giants, Sunday, January 7, 2007

In attendance: Ex-Navy Cheesehead, Shoegal, Chef Spouse

Menu: hot wings and crudities, graciously provided by Ex-Navy Cheesehead.

Let me be the 89 millionth person to note what a wild wildcard weekend this was. Although actually, not really, as all the home teams won.

As I write this, I'm watching NFL Replay of our Week 6 game in New Orleans. Just watched the Saints go slowly down the field, burning up the last of the 4th quarter when we had no timeouts left, run the clock down to about 3 seconds, and kick the game winner. Look familiar? Seems like AR's been paying attention.

Our boys beat TWO opponents Sunday: the Giants and the zebras. I know, I know, complaining about officiating is pointless, particularly when your team won. And I'm sure there were bad calls on both sides, although what I mostly saw was the Giants O Line holding the hell out of our defenders and getting away with it all damn day. And I like Tiki Barber, too. As I've mentioned, he seems like a decent person, and he's definitely retiring. But that doesn't make it OK to throw the game to his team just because you like him!

How does Plax draw an interference call when covered by Sheldon Brown, and like, 4 minutes later, same contact, same positioning with Reggie Brown covered by Jason Bell, and no interference call? Well, OK, Plax is a big whiner who gets about 50% of his catches due to pissing & moaning about interference, but come on! And this was just after the zebras called back Westy's punt return TD because Tank got his feet caught up with a Giant who was nowhere near the play, and they both went down. Excuse me, but what the hell? I actually got so mad, I had to stop watching for part of the 4th quarter, and missed the end of the drive where the Giants tied it up. Chef Spouse called me back to watch the drive that led to Akers' game-winning field goal, which I watched through my fingers, which were covering my eyes at the time.

(With the rain and after the Bengals/Broncos in week 16 and the mess with Romo Saturday night, I sure was glad to see Koy Detmer back. Maybe it is worth giving up a roster spot just for Akers' favorite holder. Could they teach him to do something else, too?)

Oddly enough, I called Life-Long Eagles Fan Mom right after the game, and she did the exact same thing - she got so pissed at the bad officiating that she had to stop watching part way through the 4th quarter, and You-Two-Calm-Down-or-I'm-Turning-Off-the-TV Dad called her back to watch the game-winning drive through her fingers, which were covering her eyes at the time. The apple doesn't fall far from the psychotic fan tree.

We continue our streak as a completely different team than we've been up to this point: a smash-mouth defense that makes it nearly impossible for opposing teams to get anything but a field goal and a grind-it-out offense with a tough mo-fo of a running back who rips 141 rushing yards, 12 receiving yards, and a TD even though he spent halftime communing with the porcelain deity, receivers who actually catch critical passes, and an even tougher QB who doesn't do anything showy or spectacular, but who absolutely refuses to lose. Where did these guys COME FROM, and can we keep 'em?

We have a lot of young guys and guys with NO prior playoff experience, and in the end, they played well enough to win. There were only a few big penalties - that interference call thanks to another Oscar-worthy performance from Plax and Runyan's inexplicable foolishness that, thanks to Barry Cofield, didn't cost us anything - and the guys kept their heads when things weren't going their way (did we start any possession in the entire first quarter outside our own 5?) And that's all that ultimately matters.

I'm sure everyone's heard the bad news about Lito at this point. We are going to miss him big time. But as I kept saying when it looked like the zebras were going to make sure we lost yesterday if we couldn't do it on our own, "We're not supposed to lose at home this week to the Giants! We're supposed to go to New Orleans next week and lose to the Saints! At least the guys will be able to console themselves with easily-accessible sazeracs!"

Also, dislocated elbow? OW! That sounds really painful. If we manage to clear the Saints - which is a long shot, Eagles fans - I really hope we get him back for the NFC Championship against the Bears. Oh come on - you know there's no way the Seahawks beat the Bears. I don't care if they play Rex Grossman, Brian Griese, or Soupy Sales at QB. It won't matter.

Around the rest of the wildcard games...

I was wrong about Colts/Chiefs. But to be fair, the Colts looked like an entirely different team Saturday afternoon than they had for the previous 17 weeks. So it's not entirely my fault that I was expecting them to play like they had all season and allow Larry Johnson to run wild. Also, who could have predicted that the Colts would pull it together for the playoffs, rather than getting their more customary case of the vapors? Finally, how does Peyton Manning throw 3 picks and the Chiefs come up with NO points from ANY of them? Did they realize that this was a playoff game? They really, really deserved to lose. REALLY.

Unsurprisingly, the Pats beat the Jets. For a while, it looked like the Jets were going to make it a game, and then...no. That was an embarrassing second half. On the up side, it looks like Belichick and Mangini have resolved their personal issues. Or they were so tired of listening to the media hoo-ha that they decided to fake it, even though they still really hate each others' guts.

Watching the Seahawks/Cowboys game, what I was mostly thinking (other than "PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE can there be career-ending injury for TO?" which I think every time the Cowboys play) was: "How in the hell did EITHER of these teams get into the playoffs?" Two seriously pathetic showings. Most Painful Playoff Game of the Week. I'll go right ahead and call Most Painful Playoff Game. Ever.

So we're sitting on the couch watching the end of the 4th quarter. The Cowboys are setting up for the go-ahead field goal with just over a minute left, and Chef Spouse says, "Think of all the problems the Cowboys have had with kickers this year. Wouldn't it be great if Gramatica muffed the kick?" Me: "No frappin' way. It's not even an extra point." Not 15 seconds later (real time, not football time), Tony Romo blows the hold, picks it up to run and is tackled about 1/2 yard short of the first down, and it's O-V-E-R.

By the time Chef Spouse had recovered from his hysterical laughter, the game had ended, and he commented, "I feel bad for Romo. Both teams sucked, and the Cowboys have lots of problems, but he's going to get blamed for everything." I responded, "I don't feel bad for him. He chose to play for the Cowboys, he deserves every bad thing that happens to him." Chef Spouse: "He was young, they offered him a lot of money. It's not his fault." Me: "Would you play football for Satan?"

So now what? Well, Chef Spouse and I were each 3-1 for the weekend. I picked Seahawks, Pats, and us right and got the Colts wrong. Chef Spouse got Colts, Pats, and us right and got the Seahawks wrong (I haven't started divorce proceedings yet, but he's walking a fine line). But both of us think that Super Bowl XLI will come down to Saints/Chargers and the Chargers will win, neither of us would be surprised to see it come down to Saints/Ravens and the Ravens will win, and we both agree that THE game of the post-season will be the AFC Championship matchup between the Ravens and the Chargers.


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