Monday, January 16, 2006

Sunday bloody Sunday

Five NFL-related developments that have managed to bring a little joy to a Pats fan on The Day After:

1) Peyton Manning morphing into Spergon Wynn in a big game (surprise), blaming his teammates for his team's annual postseason shortcomings (shocker there), and proving once again that he's the A-Rod of the NFL (nope, didn't see that coming). As if we didn't have reason enough already to appreciate Tom Brady . . .

2) Mike Vanderjagt - you might know him as the Liquored Up Idiot Kicker - pulling the shank-a-roo of a lifetime on the potential game-tying 46-yard field goal. He hadn't missed a field goal at home since the Colts were still in Baltimore, or some ridiculous stat like that. So what happens? With the Colts' season on the line, Vandergag steps up, swings his leg, and promptly turns the term "wide right" into an understatement. The word "choke" is thrown around way too often in sports, but what we saw today, sports fans, well, that was a choke. And it was spectacular. As if we didn't have reason enough already to appreciate Adam Vinatieri . . .

3) Those cleverly humorous Burger King commercials where The King is interspersed into classic plays in NFL history. We've seen him pick off Drew Bledsoe and high-step it Prime Time-style into the end zone, dump Gatorade on Don Shula, and reprise the Steve Young role in the QBs famous zig-zagging run against the Vikings. Just great stuff. I can't wait to see what's next - maybe Franco Harris's "Immaculate Reception," or perhaps Adam Vinatieri's game-tying "snow boot" against the Raiders? Or maybe The King can just put on a blue jersey, bounce an incomplete pass, rip off his chin strap and shake his head, thus re-enacting pretty much the entire Manning Family Playoff Retrospective.

4) Watching Panthers QB Jake Delhomme celebrate the victory over Chicago by jumping around like some demented cross between Brett (He's A Warrior-What A Competitor-He'd Play For Free) Favre and the crotch-grabbing, 2003-ALDS version of Derek Lowe. While we appreciate the pure comedy of a Lloyd Christmas lookalike behaving like he'd just won every Super Bowl from I through XL, he might wise to show more grace and humility next time, particularly since we all know Steve Smith makes him.

5) The Colts failing to follow the script and "win" despite the referees' best efforts to give Tagliabue's Darlings the game. To put it another way: Troy Polamalu's interception - and it was undoubtedly an interception - would have stood if he had a horseshoe on his helmet.

As for today's Completely Random Football Card:

Lucky for Bettis that Ben Roethlisberger is such a good open-field tackler. I've never particularly been a fan of The Bus - he dances and yaps a little too much after pedestrian two-yard gains for my liking - but this is supposedly his final season, and you'd hate to see such an accomplished career end on an awful fumble. (Which is one more reason why I want to see Troy Brown come back in '06.)

(Oh, yeah, and one more thing I meant to mention last night: Deion Branch was simply magnificent against the Broncos. The tough little receiver from Louisville continues to build his reputation as a postseason superhero, and we would be ashamed to let his performance go unnoticed in this space. What a player.)

(Oh, yeah, and one more one more thing. Be sure to check out Outside the Hub, a new blog launched by my good pal, occasional TATB contributor and all-time Madden whipping boy Steve Mistler. If you like this little place in cyberspace, you'll dig his too.)

That's all I've got. I will now return to my regularly scheduled Sam Adams Winter Lager . . .