There I sat. 7-0 in the playoffs with the Chargers leading by 8 late in the 4th quarter. I had already taken a huge risk by picking the Chargers, both passively - Marty Schottenheimer isn't Lombardi when it comes to playoff success - and actively - my wife is from Massachusetts, meaning I was picking directly against her beloved Patriots, putting me squarely in the dog house - but it looked like it was all going to be worth it, until the play that changed everything. The ole' 4th down interception-no-fumble-now-a-first-down-play the Patriots executed to perfection.
We know what happened next. Brady became Brady, and Marty became Marty, wasting timeouts with ridiculous challenges, and showing every wrong way to manage the clock late in a playoff game. Just like that, my winning streak was over, and maybe even worse, that "look" from my wife. I hate that "look".
Here are a couple of thoughts about this past weekend's games -
Indianapolis 15 @ Baltimore 6 -- This game was least surprising to me, for a number of reasons, mostly because the Ravens just didn't impress me this year. They easily could have finished 10-6, and their offense was easily the worst of the remaining teams heading into this weekend. The Colts just have that "feel" to them. They struggled for most of the year, winning ugly, losing uglier, but almost appearing to play the first 16 games to prepare for the final 4. No off-season pick up last year was bigger than Adam Vinatieri, and he is proving that in these playoffs, kicking 8 field goals in two games. -- WIN
Philadelphia 24 @ New Orleans 27 -- Just like the first time these two teams played, the Saints scored early, fell behind, then came back and beat the Eagles. No offense is playing better right now than the Saints, and with Bush and McAllister in the back-field New Orleans has a lethal combination to couple with Drew Brees' arm. For the Eagles, the season came to an end, but they proved a lot to me. I always questioned the toughness of this team, but they easily could have folded up the tent when McNabb went down and they didn't. They'll be back, and they'll be stronger for it. -- WIN
Seattle 24 @ Chicago 27 - Seattle had every opportunity to beat the Bears, but in the end probably got what they deserved. A team that under-achieved all season, the Seahawks missed out on an opportunity to get back to the Championship Game because Rex Grossman out-played Matt Hasselback. Shaun Alexander was totally under-utilized, and Seahawks' receivers forgot how to catch the ball. There is some concern for Bears' fans, however, with how easy a banged up offense was able to move the ball against this "legendary" defense. The Bears look soft up the middle, with the loss of Tommy Harris, and their secondary is susceptible to the big play without Mike Brown. Not a good combination with the Saints coming to town. -- WIN
New England 24 @ San Diego 21 -- This weekend's "Choke Award" goes to the San Diego Chargers, who found every conceivable way to lose a football game. Turnovers, stupid penalties, bad play-calling, poor clock management. You name it, the Chargers did it. Tom Brady won a game for the first time when throwing more than 2 interceptions, and the Patriots managed only 48 yards rushing. It was so obvious which team had more talent, but in the end, the Patriots just know how to get it done. Hat tip to Troy Brown, who used his experience playing DB to strip the ball in the 4th quarter after Marlon McCree had intercepted a 4th down pass. Hint - just knock it down! -- LOSS, Dammit!!
Only 3 games left in the 2006 NFL season. Where has the time gone??