Necessary Roughness, Week 14: Let It Snow, Let it Snow, the ‘Skins Blow… and the Longest Field Goal Ever!
It was a weekend of wild finishes, incredible kicks, and pathetic failures as the the playoffs loom right around the corner. Gods be praised, I love football when it’s played in driving snow. And when there is a storm as big the one that hit the middle of the U.S. on Sunday it seemed like just about every other game was being played on a field with no lines. With some excellent company, a fridge full of Angry Orchards (love those things even though they are packed with sugar), and no expectations of the ‘Skins doing anything other than losing, I settled in early for a beautiful, blustery day of watching football in the snow.
How quickly my joy turned to misery and humiliation as I watched the ‘Skins not only lose but get TORCHED at home by the Kansas City Chiefs, 45-10. If ever there is a cursed team it is mine, and as my cohorts and I suffered through huge K.C. play after huge K.C. play (and some of the most gutless tackling I have ever seen) I could almost hear the warcries of the native braves calling for Dan Snyder’s head. Because if it all starts at the top then I believe the ‘Skins will never be any better than their owner, who sucks. He has made absolutely the worst coaching choices so consistently, wait, I take that back… he has made the correct choices when finally realizing he made the wrong initial one, and I am sure as Shanahan and little Kyle come up on the end of their disastrous contract year they are already planning their moves out of the DC area. And seeing as they probably are going to end up at the bottom of the standings, the trading away of all their best picks to get RG III is going to be doubly painful. Still, I sucked up every second of it, unlike the smallest crowd in the history of Fed Ex Field, most of whom left by the end of the second quarter. The team was booed repeatedly, snowballs were hurled at the bench, and at least one spectator was removed for screaming at Shanahan. Oh, how fucking awful. Congrats to the Chiefs and their fans for an outstanding snap of what had been a 3-game losing streak. Hopefully the Chiefs will finish strong and make a decent run at the Super Bowl. When I was a little kid I used to like the Chiefs simply because their uniforms looked like the ‘Skins a little bit, and that was my only solace as the raging blizzard dwindled down to a miserable ice storm.
But it wasn’t until the next day when I read about the game in the Washington Post that I got the full scope of the team’s problems. I had missed the story that had broken on ESPN right before the game about how Shanahan hated owner Dan Snyder so much that he had been actively trying to get fired since last year and had allegedly cleaned out his office BEFORE the ‘Skins playoff appearance against the Seattle Seahawks. There were accusations that “Shanny”, who is by all accounts a complete asshole, left RGIII in the game long after it was obvious he was injured in order to undermine his supposed MVP chances. Supposedly he was jealous of RG’s buddy-buddy relationship with Danny-Boy and wanted to get the boot in order to get paid the seven million dollars he is supposed to get next season without doing anything to earn it. I don’t know to what extent any of this is true but it’s all nauseating. More horror followed as fingers were pointed, blame was cast around like fertilizer and the Post labeled Shanahan, Snyder, and RGIII “a weasel, a skunk, and a peacock.” The bottom line is that Washington football fans, some of the loyalest in the game, deserve better, and once again the team that can’t even get its name right is going down in flames and ruin. And for those of you that don’t give a flying fuck about the ‘Skins, be consoled in that this is probably the last time I am going to write about them this year.
Luckily I caught the last 48 seconds of the Baltimore Ravens vs. Minnesota Vikings game and got to see Joe Flacco drive the Ravens the length of the field to throw a game-winning TD pass to Marlon Brown with four seconds left to win 29-26. The game saw five TDs in the last two minutes. The Ravens continued to rebound from a sluggish start to their season and remain in the playoff hunt. Their opponents in last year’s Super Bowl, the San Francisco 49’ers, exhibited similar strength. They prevailed in a must-win game over divisional rivals and NFC top seed Seattle Seahawks, 19-17, in a game that was close all the way. The New England Patriots staged a monster comeback, rallying from a 12-point deficit with only 61 seconds left to defeat the Cleveland Browns, 27-26, aided by the hapless Browns committing two critical penalties in the last minute of play. Oh poor Jason Campbell, going from the cover of Sports Illustrated to being bounced around from lousy team to lousy team. I almost feel sorry for him, but I don’t because he makes millions of dollars.
The Philadelphia Eagles continued their quest to go from first-to-worst-to-first again after beating the Detroit Lions, 34-20, in a raging blizzard that had field conditions so bad that both teams went for two-point conversions on almost every TD scored. Gotta hand it to the Eagles for bouncing back and Philly’s LeSean McCoy for a monster game where he ran for 217 yards, including two long TDs. Gotta not hand it to the Lions for fumbling the ball repeatedly and losing RB Reggie Bush when he slipped and fell in pre-game warm-ups. Ouch! The Lions are still a half game in front of the Bears so don’t despair too much, Lions fans. Unless of course the Bears beat the Cowboys tonight.
There were a couple crazy plays of note. First off the Keystone Kops finale last play of the Pittsburgh Steelers vs. the Miami Dolphins game, which saw Pittsburgh QB Ben Roethlisberger take the snap at his own 20 with zero seconds left on the clock. This led to a wild play in which no less than six different Steelers played hot potato with the ball in a desperate attempt to score–and it actually appeared to work for a moment as the Steelers Antonio Brown grabbed what looked like an illegal forward pass from Big Ben, who had the ball for the second time in the play, and streaked down the sidelines for a flawless winning touchdown… NOT. How quickly joy turns to pain in this game as the refs ruled Brown had stepped out of bounds. And finally big kudos to Denver Broncos place kicker Matt Prater for booting a 64-yard field goal in the Broncs monster 51-28 victory over the Tennessee Titans. It’s a new N.F.L. record!
There were tons of other huge games but you don’t expect me to comment on every game now, do you? Especially with this ice storm knocking out my cable and my internet on Sunday night. Big wins for the Bengals, the Saints (maybe those Panthers aren’t so dark after all), the Cards and the Chargers… let’s hear from ya!