Tuesday, November 24, 2009

What a Sunday

On paper, the Lions-Browns Zero Bowl yesterday was a terrible match-up of 1-8 teams. It turned out to be a 38-37 Lions win where the Browns blew a 24-3 first half lead and the two teams combined for over 900 yards of offense. I'm lucky that I was able to watch the end of the game live, which had this bizarre sequence of plays. If you haven't heard about it for some reason, it went like this:

Detroit had the ball at the Cleveland 32 with 8 seconds left, quarterback Matthew Stafford rolled left to avoid a sack, rolled right, and threw a pass that was intercepted. But, Browns defensive back Hank Poteat tackled a receiver as the pass was thrown, so the game could not end even though there was no time left. Since the call was in the endzone, the Lions got the ball at the 1-yard line. But, in a break for the Browns, Stafford was hurt on the play. In came Daunte Culpepper, who had no time to warmup. With only one chance to get it right, the odds probably favoured the Browns. That's why it made no sense for the Browns to call a timeout and get their bearings, which allowed an injured Stafford to return and throw his fifth touchdown pass for a 38-37 win.

This came just after fellow bottom-dwellers upended the Super Bowl champion Steelers 27-24 in overtime. A third upset came in the Bengals-Raiders game, which was no surprise. Cincinnati got to the Raiders' 1, 13, and 9 in the second half and got three points. With a few minutes left, the Raiders were down 24-17 and tied the game with about 30 seconds left. The Bengals fumbled the kickoff and the Raiders kicked a field goal to win the game 27-24.

Elsewhere in the NFL, the Broncos completed the not-so-astonishing collapse I predicted a long time ago, handing over the division title to the Chargers with their fourth straight loss. This led Yahoo! Sports to write this on their website: "The Broncos once stood firm among title contenders. Now, they're trying to avoid a total collapse." Only the sort of halfwits that write for Yahoo! considered a 6-0 start by the Broncos to be legitimate.

In effect, this allowed Yahoo! to create a story where there was none, and the hype they produced allowed them to create a second story about going from being "among title contenders" to a "total collapse". That the people who talk about football professionally don't really know what they''re talking about. They predict the outcomes of games with accuracy worse than a coin toss, and when talking about football, try and offer up nonsensical cliches. The person with the loudest voice wins in these competitions.

Consider that a lot of analysts railed on the Jaguars' Maurice Jones-Drew for intentionally not scoring a touchdown late in last week's game against the Jets. Instead, he knelt at the 1-yard line and the Jaguars ran out the clock and actually kicked a field goal. A touchdown would have given the ball back to the Jets with almost two minutes left in the game. This sort of strategic thinking isn't what professional analysts talk about, so they kept yelling "you can't take points off the board". Also, you need to be able to run the football and stop the run in the playoffs. If you can't do that, you won't win the Super Bowl. If you're going to run the ball, it's best to run straight ahead for two yards at a time because then big men hit each other and it gets the testosterone flowing for everybody involved.

No comments: