On a weekend where some teams had the playoffs in their grasp and dropped the ball, and on a weekend where some floundering teams took their futile twitchings to a new level of abdominal spasms, there were a whole bunch of performances that were just plain sorry. I do not mean sorry in the sense of regrettable or even pathetic; I mean sorry in the sense of wretched, useless or dismal.
The Philadelphia Eagles gave a sorry account of themselves. Yes, the Redskins’ defense they played is statistically a good one but the Eagles offensive ineptitude made them look like the 1985 Chicago Bears.
The Cleveland Browns gave a sorry account of themselves. The team had not scored an offensive touchdown since Nov 17, which is damned bad, but on Sunday, they managed to score no points of any kind on the Cincinnati Bengals. If Romeo Crennel’s job had been hanging by a thread, Sunday’s game was the scissors cutting that thread.
The Arizona Cardinals gave a sorry account of themselves. Mike Ditka said before the game that the Cards had not shown up to play last week and said this week’s game would be a “drive by”. They lost to the Pats in the snow 47-7 but it wasn’t nearly that close. Does anyone on the Cardinals’ defensive unit actually know how to tackle a player with the ball?
The Detroit Lions gave a sorry account of themselves. Looking to avoid being the first and only team in NFL history to sport an 0-15 record, the Lions hosted the Saints – - and proceeded to lose the game 42-7.
The St. Louis Rams gave a sorry account of themselves. Leading the Niners 16-3 in the fourth quarter, the Rams once again found a way to lose this game. They gave up 2 TDs in the final 4 minutes of the game.
The Denver Broncos gave a sorry account of themselves. A win guaranteed them the AFC West championship and a spot in the playoffs. They led the Bills – not a great team by any means – 13-0 in the second quarter and managed to lose. Next week is a playoff game for Denver; a win against San Diego and they continue to play; loser goes home.
The NY Jets gave a sorry account of themselves. They were tied for the AFC lead and faced a Seahawks team that entered the game 3-11. The Jets managed to score exactly 3 points and lost 13-3.
The Dallas Cowboys gave a sorry account of themselves. Like the Eagles and the Broncos they were in a “win-and-you’re in” mode and they lost to the Ravens Saturday night. The way they lost was by giving up two runs on consecutive plays for a total of 159 yards and 2 TDs. I cannot find a reference to this but I would think that this might be the most yardage ever surrendered by an NFL team on two consecutive plays from scrimmage.
By the way, NFL Network deserves a mention on this list of “sorries”. Five years ago, NFL Network was launched to great fanfare. Today, it is available in less than 40% of the homes in the US. Lots of folks missed out on the Baltimore/Dallas game Saturday night and they should not have. The NFL has tried to “Bigfoot” the cable companies and it is not working; the cable companies want access to the NFL Sunday Ticket Package; the league will not bargain on that; Comcast wanted the Thursday night football package; the NFL started its own network to televise those games.
As an example of how cooperation works better than coercion in this area, MLB Network will debut on January 1, 2009 in 50 million homes – more than the number of homes that receive NFLN after five years on the air.
Last weekend was a good one for watching some quality college basketball games. Frankly, I would not mind seeing UConn and Gonzaga play each other in a regional semi-final or final game in March. Two good teams put on a very good show. Gonzaga shot 50% against a very good defensive basketball team.
Duke and Xavier were interesting to watch for a while even if it wasn’t a nail-biter. When Duke is playing its aggressive defense well and running at every opportunity – - and even running when there is no opportunity whatsoever – - they can be fun to watch if they are playing a quality opponent. Xavier is not a bad team; they were just never in the game this weekend.
I only saw highlights of this game but at one point Purdue led Davidson 21-0. The Boilermakers held Davidson star, Stephen Curry, to 13 points and won handily.
In case you have not paid attention to college basketball yet this year, allow me to suggest that you focus some of your attention to the Big East this year no matter where you live. The Big East is loaded. UConn, Pitt, Georgetown, Notre Dame, Syracuse and Louisville are all really good. Cincinnati, Villanova and Marquette are not shabby at all – - and they could well finish seventh, eighth and ninth in the Big East. Any team with a winning record in Big East play this year should get special consideration for the tournament in March.
Finally, when a writer makes an error in a column, the proper thing to do is to print a correction. When Scott Ostler made an error in one of his columns in the SF Chronicle, he wrote his correction in the same sarcastic tone as the error:
Error: “Jerry Porter defends [Plaxico] Burress, saying, ‘It’s nothing but safety.’ If that’s the case, why doesn’t Plax tuck his Glock into his football pants, too?
“And speaking of safety, Plaxico, it’s that little switch on the side of your Glock. If you can’t locate it, phone Glock tech support. Or ask your cocktail waitress.”
Correction: “Thanks to the many gun-slingin’ readers who set me straight on the Glock. A Glock has no conventional safety, because the weapon is built for firefights. In other words, it’s the perfect gun for a numbskull football player who is having a cocktail and using his Glock as a thigh-scratcher.”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports…