Everyone awoke Sunday expecting news of their favorite team, and where they were in the playoff race. Instead, we lost an all-time great to an apparent respiratory disease. Everyone is talking about it, so I decided to add my own spin. Reggie White contributed so much to the game, but that isn’t the most significant part of his life. Everyone that knew him said he made you feel like he had known you his whole life, even after just meeting you. His voice and heart were legendary, and he treated you like a part of the family. Anyone that can nearly bring Mike Golic to tears on his passing had to have impacted a great deal of people in a positive fashion. We will miss his outspoken legendary stature, and his game-changing attitude. Forty-three years was not enough time, but we can be happy with the time we did have. He changed lives and the fates of two franchises. Number 92, you will be missed. If you weren’t already a shoe-in for the Hall next year, now there is no doubt.
On to football…
Broken Ankle, No Broken Wings
The game Monday night promised to rest many starters, as Brian Westbrook was inactive and Donovan McNabb was to play only one or two series. I have to say, the Eagles looked pretty good on offense though it was against a 7-7 Rams team. They let the Rams run ten straight times and power down the field without even throwing a pass. This is still a concern for Philly, and what I believe will be their downfall. Their continued inability to stop the run (especially against a team that has not run well all season) will be their Achilles’ heel.
Play on to Playoffs
The playoff picture has taken shape this week, as the top teams solidified their positions, and the teams trying to sneak in have made their run. The biggest shame is going to be the Bills, since they will most likely be left out at 10-6. They will probably beat Pittsburgh next week, since the Steelers will be trying to shorten their injury list and have nothing left to prove in the regular season. They need that game and the Jets and Broncos to lose to get in. That team has finally bought into Mike Mularkey’s game plan, and after their 0-4 start they have gone 9-2 and are on a seven game winning streak. They have been playing great on offense, defense and special teams; I am not sure that any team wants to see them in the number six spot, including New England.
Choke on It
Speaking of teams on the cuff of the playoffs, what was that pathetic display that Jacksonville put on against the Texans Sunday? Dom Capers’ crew is not a bad team, and always plays tough, but to record their first shutout in franchise history against a team that should have been fighting for their playoff lives is amazing. The Jags were in the playoff hunt because they were a scrappy team that never gave up. Now they are the team that simply didn’t show up and the only way they’ll be in the Super Bowl is if they buy tickets like everyone else.
While we are on teams that are out of the playoffs, is it my imagination or have the Ravens lost their intimidation edge on their opponents? Like many great teams, they ran the ball well and played great defense. When opposing running backs came up the middle, they hit them in the mouth and made them think about the next 32 power that was called. With large letdowns against the Bengals, Colts and Steelers they are now going home in January.
Also, every running back that has rushed for 2000 yards has a letdown the following season, but Jamal Lewis seems to look tired and worn out every time they have him on camera. He has run hard on some plays, but doesn’t seem to have the same fire he did last year. Granted, he was out for five games – that explains some of it, but I just don’t understand. He seems to be completely out of football shape when a runner of his style should be getting into a groove in the month of December.
Just Plain Lousy Game of the Week: CLE vs. MIA – This game was so bad I think people forgot it was on. The schedulers were sure glad this was scheduled for prime time. The lone bright spot was the most ridiculous play of the season: the three change-of-possession pass by Cade McNown. It took 59 minutes and 53 seconds for someone to decide they wanted to win. Ridiculous display of football, if you can call it that.
With most leagues having their Super Bowl this past week, I hope everyone has enjoyed the fantasy season as much as I have. I finished first and third in my two leagues, and third was a gift after the season I had. I am already making plans for next year!
There will be some big time names in free agency this year. Shaun Alexander, Matt Hassleback, Walter Jones, Plaxico Burress, Mushin Muhammad, and Edgerrin James just to name a few. All the stars will make for an interesting off-season.
I want to say thanks to all the readers this year, and all the members who have loved, hated or been indifferent to my column in my rookie season. At least you were reading, and there’s something to be said for that.
Thanks to Peyton Manning for providing a great accomplishment this season when he broke Dan Marino’s record this week. I am sorry to say that ESPN will be going out of business next week since the record has been broken.